Permission To Play? Childlike Faith vs. Childish World



When you stop and think about it, there is one thing we all have in common – we have been children. Either we are now or we once were. Now those experiences of childhood might be vastly different, but that we were children. And like all children, our minds were wired to explore our world. We have called that explorations many things but the word that comes to my mind most easily is Play.

As babies we get be cute and adorable and have everyone “oooo” and 'coo' at us. We have the world on a string and get whatever we want – that is until our parents and guardians say the dreaded word - “NO!” Suddenly, an idea is introduced into our play that can forever alter our world. You see – NO tells us there are some things that are dangerous – all the world isn't safe. We begin asking permission to play.

But we aren't all that trusting of those who love us are we? I'm certain that as a toddler, I had already learned that NO meant BAD – STOP – DANGER. But after I broke the lamp and glass was scattered across the floor, I just didn't believe my mom as she stood on the other side of the broken shards. She told me NO – but I just wouldn't listen and proceeded to walk right across...without cutting my feet.

And just like that, even at the earliest of ages we discover something new, rebellion, do we really need permission to play? Do those who care about us really know what is best? We learn the phrase, “it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission,” and come to apply it early and often. As we discover when we get older, there aren't always immediate negative consequences when we hear NO.

We question the need for sunblock because it doesn't immediately cause cancer. We question texting while driving because we don't wreck when we do it. We question why our parents say no to rated R movies because we don't see the change in ourselves right away. We question saying no to drugs because we don't addicted and look like those people on billboards as soon as we try it. The word we use to describe all of this is a simple one – we call it behaving childish. It is a lot nicer term than the word most used by God – He calls it sin.

Gen 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Gen 2:15-17 NASB Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. (16) The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; (17) but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."


And you know what? When the woman and the man ate from it they didn't die...not immediately physically BUT death entered the world. A curse has followed us all since that moment. It was a childish decision but a decision which we all of us would have made. The truth is we do make it for there is an alternative.

The father of John the Baptist would give a prophesy saying: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, (Luke 1:68 NASB)

Since children go to school, let's have a little English lesson today. Redemption begins with a prefix (re-): meaning "back" or "again.” The word comes from the Greek lutrōsis. It is an ancient practice of the Jews coming from the exodus, later called The Redemption of the First-Born found in the book of Numbers. The Jews believed that the first born child was set apart in God's eyes but if able, in a religious ritual, a child could be redeemed – brought back into the family.

Now listen very carefully, you are that child only you and I have become captive in a childish world. Oh, don't believe me? How can tyrants still run nations? How can people still be persecuted by faith? How can celebrities who cannot stay married or who have restraining orders by their children – give advise on parenting and marriage? How can we truly believe we can live on debt? These are only signs of the Curse. God was right – they are death to us because it wasn't how it was supposed to be but instead how we chose.

But this is what God did, he sent Jesus Christ into this childish world and began to ask the question, “Would you like permission to play?” Now this is a problem for childish people – they think they know what playing is all about – they own playing – you don't need a parent in a childish world.

We lost sight of how much joy a parent has in giving permission for a child to play – I think the word the Bible uses for this is called “blessings.” God's desire for us is for our desire to be for Him. God wants to give us permission to play – to explore this incredible world as he intended it and to know Him as he intended. Jesus came to REDEEM – to take us out of the curse – out of childish into childlike – knowing that He simply loves us as we are – who we are.

For 20 years, I have strived after pleasing God. From youth volunteer, ministry leader, youth pastor to pastor = how can I please God? Yes, I've read the Bible. Yes, I've heard teachings otherwise. Yes, I've counseled people to not live that way. But the Curse is all too easy to fall into even for a pastor. And maybe especially here in a church plant. So many to please – so much work to be done – so little time for anything else.

And there I was, sitting in a networking meeting this fall. I don't remember just how the introductions began, but somewhere, a joke began about being people's assistants. When it came my turn, I stood and introduced myself, “I'm Ken, the lead pastor at Crossroads UMC and I'm nobody's assistant.” There was a moment of pause before someone blurted out, “Oh Yes you are and we're clearing the room before lightning strikes!” We all had a good laugh. But as I sat down, I heard these words in my head, “You're right – you are not my assistant. You Ken, are my son.”

While all the 'doing' and 'knowing' is good it isn't the best. I'm not going to say it is easier either. I've read enough and talked with people I respect enough and lived through enough to tell you, God's words of assurance and acceptance are available always. Unfortunately, we don't always listen. But here, at the communion table, we have the opportunity again to tell the story...

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