Sunday September 3, 2017 | Brianna Millett
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, we was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them. For it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs."
When did we grow out of our imagination? At what point did we cease living into the adventure that is life, that is following Jesus? We are told, at far too young of an age, to “put away childish things”, to create a life that is predictable, linear and safe. But is that the kind of life Jesus invites us to live? This week Brianna shares with us the adventure of being Dreamers and Doers in the Kingdom of God.
Kids have a wild capacity for creative imagination. They do not only see that which is in this world, rather they are experts at seeing what could be. Kids are the ones who look at an ordinary cardboard box and, with their imagination and playful spirit, transform it into a racecar. Kids exercise a faith – faith which is, according to Hebrews 11, simply the substance of things unseen – that actualizes the Kingdom of God in vibrant ways.
Before the ink is drying on the cardboard box racecar, we tell our children to grow up, to think logically, to plan and prepare for adulthood. No time for imagination, there’s too much planning and 5-year goals to achieve. Before we know it, we’ve lost our ability to dream, to imagine, to exercise a faith in the adventurous God that sees beyond the surface.
But Jesus has a lot to say about the importance of children in the Kingdom. In Mark 10:13-14 we get a glimpse of Jesus’ heart for children. The story reads as this: “People were brining little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, we was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them. For it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” For it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs… To the children. Have you ever seriously considered this wild statement? Often times adults deliberate over the nature of children that makes them special inheritors of the Kingdom. “It’s because children exercise a deep dependence of God, so too we ought to depend on God,” we say. Sure. Of course we need to depend on God. Without God we can do nothing! But what if it’s more than that?
Perhaps one of the reasons Jesus so warmly welcomes all the children to take up residence on his lap is because Jesus knows it is the children who are eager and willing to adventure, to dream, to say yes to following without knowing exactly where they are going. Perhaps it is because children are the ones who can see beyond that which is and dream of what can be. Perhaps children are the dreamers and doers of the kingdom of God.
In the movie, Mary Poppins, there is a scene that illustrates just how beautiful and significant the imagination is to bringing the Kingdom of God here, on earth, just as it is in heave. In this particular scene a character named Burt has drawn a colorful sidewalk display of places to travel. Mary, and the two children, Michael and Jane, encounters Burt and dream of traveling to the places sketched out on the sidewalk. But they don’t just dream of traveling to the places, for their imagination is far too engaged to stop there. Instead they all together jump in to the drawings and live out their dream.
It is with kind of imagination that we are invited to exercise. Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substantiating of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is the very substance of things hoped for, that is things not seen. In this sense, we can do faith via the imagination, just like the scene in the Mary Poppins. The children used their imagination to see in their minds eye that which is not visible in the material world. And the more they exercised their faith via the imagination, the stronger their desire to live out that imagined reality grew. So strongly it grew that they jumped into the sidewalk drawing so that their imagination became reality. This is the way of faith. The more we imagine, the more we allow ourselves to see beyond that which is, the stronger our conviction grows, thus filling us with the courage and desire to live it out.
When we cease exercising this kind of unapologetic faith we succumb to the patterns of this world. We become entirely incapable of seeing beyond that which is. Rather than believe God can do big things, we respond to the world around us just as the world does. Where there is war, we respond with more war. Where there are hurtful words, we exchange more hurtful words. We fall into the “eye for an eye” pattern of life. The key is imagination, is faith. To take on the same dreamers spirit of Children is the key to transforming our lives and transforming the world.
German theologian, Jurgen Moltmann explains the transforming power of imaginative faith in this way: “From first to last, and not merely in the epilogue, Christianity is eschatology, is hope, forward looking and forward moving, and therefore also revolutionizing and transforming the present.” Christianity is hope, is looking forward, is seeing beyond that which is into what can be. As we do this kind of dreaming and doing, we participate in the Kingdom adventure of revolutionizing and transforming the present. When we do this, we are liberated to receive “The Great Exchanges” of the Kingdom. The Great Exchanges where swords (weapons of death and war) are beaten into plowshares (tools of peace and life. Where scarlet sins are washed white as snow. Where there is liberation for the oppressed and release to the prisoners; where those who mourn are comforted and garland is given in place of ashes. THIS is the Kingdom of God that is revolutionizing and transforming the present. But we must first engage our faith if we are take the steps of transforming the present world. The more colorful and vibrant our faith, the stronger the conviction to live it out.
What is your imagined reality? Where do you want to see the kingdom more actualized in your life, in your family, neighborhood; in your workplace, marriage, finances??? God does not invite us to a life that is safe and predictable. God invites us to adventure, to follow the way that revolutionizes and transforms the present. Will you say yes to the adventurous life of being a dreamer and doer? Brianna ends by providing three essential “take home points”. The first practice is this: Engage your imagination. It’s that simple. Begin exercising your faith, see beyond that which is. Second, share your imagined reality with a friend! And third, Jump in! Don’t just stop at dreaming, DO your faith!