By Pastor Russell Walden
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3 KJV).
Paul wrote to the Corinthians comparing them with Eve in the garden. He referred to the time she was confronted by the Serpent. Prior to this, Adam and Eve lived an uncomplicated, idyllic life. But, when the Serpent came he began to undermine Eve's knowledge of God's word. Through his questioning and casting of doubt he misled her and brought destruction into her life.
Paul uses this occurrence to describe a danger that threatened the Corinthian church. And, this same danger faces Christianity today. For the new convert within some churches, the innocence of new found faith is too often corrupted by a complex theology of doubt and self- justification.
There is a great need to recover simplicity of the faith. This simplicity does not mean that you turn your brain off when you accept Jesus Christ as Savior. The gospel is SIMPLE, not STUPID. Charles Finney states in his "Systematic Theology" that he did not intend in his writing to do away with the reader's need TO THINK.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul maintained that he did not present the gospel with the "wisdom of men." Yet he noted there was a place to speak wisdom among those who would be wise. Peter agreed with this in his second letter. He observed: it is through the knowledge of God you receive "all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3).
Jesus said "come as a little child" (Mark 10:15). Failing this, you cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Children are quick learners. They are open to new ideas and challenges. A child's approach to life is a study in simplicity. Isn't SIMPLICITY the defining difference between adults and children? The older you get, the more complex life becomes. The older you get, the greater the burdens of life weigh on your shoulders. On the other hand, a child's nature, is carefree and uncomplicated. Children laugh easily and forgive readily. Children usually are found begging for an opportunity to help Mom or Dad. Only as they grow and develop into the image of the adults around them do they learn to resent authority and avoid responsibility.
The story goes that a new convert was baptized, joined the church and plunged with great zeal into all the programs and activities of the body. This young man was the epitome of excitement and passion for God. He was ready to charge Hell with a water pistol.
One day, a wizened old matron caught his sleeve. She drew him aside for a word of counsel. The young convert's eyes opened wide. He swallowed a lump in his throat. He was astounded this icon of spiritual wisdom desired an audience with him. Peering at the young man through her one good eye she began. "This joy that you have," she warned, "will not last."
He caught his breath, suddenly envisioning portents of a bleak future. With the authority born from years of putrefaction on the third pew back on the left she continued. "Before you know it, you'll be just like us!"
How many of us have had that conversation in one form or another not long after we became Christians? My sentiments at that time were something along the line of: "Shoot me now and get it over with!" If years of Christian service are going to wear me down to the shadow of a dim spiritual wraith, then what's the point of living for God at all?
The scriptures, on the other hand, give some quite different examples. When Moses died it was said: his "natural strength abated not, and his eye grew not dim" (Deuteronomy 34:7). After forty years bearing the responsibility of millions of Israelites, he was filled with stamina and strength.
During the same period, Caleb, at eighty years of age, undertook the siege of Mount Zion. He displayed the zeal and passion of a man four times younger than he was.
These and many other examples point out that now and in even in old age walking with God can be an adventure. Our walk can be a passionate quest for the fullness of grace that Jesus died to provide us in every chapter of life.
David spoke of his youth being renewed like the eagles'. The only thing that can rob you of the pristine vitality of your new birth is willful surrender to lukewarmness and spiritual boredom. Loss of first love is not part and parcel of growth in God. There has crept into the average Christian mind-set a pessimism born from years of failure to translate powerful sermons and inspiring song services into practical grace for the Monday morning blues.
I am personally acquainted with scores of believers, church leaders, and former pastors, around the country who sit at home, burned out. They are deeply wounded and incapable of activating in their lives even the basic commitment to involvement in a local church.
You may be one of these refugees from religious Christianity. If so, take heart. There is hope. You need not join the ranks of the walking wounded. The help you need is not going to come by tuning in to some new radio broadcast, or buying the latest Christian self-help material. The most confused, insensitive, indiscreet believers you will find are those who spend mind-numbing hours plugged in to the radio preachers or viewing Christian T.V.
You don't need any more WORD. You need to do something with the word you already have. Children are not good audiences. They don't get much out of being spectators. They want to get involved. They want to participate. Jesus told the Pharisees: the kingdom of God "comes not with observation" (Luke 17:20).
The greatest weight on a Christian's heart is often the weight of the sermons, teachings, seminars and messages that he heard and did nothing with. I recently saw a book title, "Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." How true this is of believers. We must unlearn the lessons of Christian religion. We must recover intimacy with the person of Jesus. It was that intimacy that was second nature to us when we were first born into the kingdom.
"I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent" (Revelation 2:4-5).
Jesus' solution to recovering first love is to DO something. Do the first works. You must begin again to see your Christian faith in a Biblically accurate perspective. You must not see your faith as that which is expressed in concepts or religious philosophy. Instead see it in activities arising directly from communion with Jesus Christ in your own heart.
Church programs, religious activities or charitable events often only parrot spiritual activity. The difference is what you DO FOR GOD, as opposed to what God is doing through you. What you do FOR God takes away from your relationship with Him. What He does through you is a PART of your relationship with Him. The first step toward recovering the childlike nature in Christ is a step away from vain philosophies and religious activity, for activities' sake. A child's entire focus is on the Father -- he wants to be like Daddy. As you focus on your heavenly Father you will become like him in thought, character and activity.