Innocence And The Kingdom Of God
Then Jesus said, “Leave the children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to Me, because the kingdom of heaven is made up of people like this.”
I found a website this morning on Twitter that was full collections of thought provoking questions. The very first one got my attention:
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”
Whenever the subject of age comes up, particularly when viewed through the lens of our own internal versions of ourselves, we all seem to think of ourselves as a certain age in our own minds; usually a younger age than we currently are.
What age is that for you?
In thinking on that question, I realized that I guess I’m lucky in that I feel very comfortable in my own skin at my current age, so I don’t tend to think of myself as a 20-year ago version of me – cuz that me didn’t have a life nearly half as good as the one I have today.
So that aside, now that I have young children I’ve very much enjoyed revisiting my early childhood; a period of my life I’m lucky to still have vivid memories of. I think there’s some important reasons for that, and maybe they’ll resonate with you:
I was allowed to use my imagination to go in whatever directions it wanted to take me, and that made being an only child until almost the age of seven a very magic-filled time.
Music was ever-present in my house, and mine was full of The Moody Blues, Harry Chapin, Peter Paul & Mary, and John Denver…LOTS of John Denver. The thing about all of these artists that really impacted my very young brain was that they fed the mind and heart both, and they touched something very deep in me for whatever reason.
And I still listen to all that music on a daily basis all these years later.
The song in the video above is from John’s very first solo album that came out the year after I was born, so this music goes back to my earliest possible memories. Even back then, I identified with the song – it was about me! Now I hear it as a father of young boys – its about me!
As John would say, “Far out.”
And yet perhaps none of these things would be as profoundly central to my Being were it not for the fact that all of this was, at the same time, being shaped alongside the development of my personal faith.
My relationship with Jesus also goes back to my earliest possible memory. I do not remember a day without his presence in my life.
That firstly has to do with the fact that I’m a preacher’s kid. It secondly and just as primarily has to do with the fact that I was a skinny, sensitive, artistic kid that got picked on from the time I was in Kindergarten (and I still remember the kid’s name) until, literally, the day I graduated high school.
From my earliest age, Jesus was shared with me as a very loving, special person who thought I was a loving, special person too. He understood what it was like to get picked on for no reason, because people treated him that way, too. So I could talk with him and he’d know exactly how I was feeling and remind me how much I’m loved by him, and thusly by God.
I could talk with him anytime I wanted – and I did! It became almost a constant form of internal dialog/prayer, and in many ways Jesus was my “Imaginary Friend” growing up. I never, ever felt alone, and it was an amazing relationship to have at such an early age.
Thank you, Mom and Dad.
The seriousness with which I took that friendship, and the fact that I knew early on that it was built on a foundation of empathy, forgiveness and unconditional love, formed the way I responded to the bullying; I tried to feel sorry for them and I walked (and sometimes ran) away.
Every blessed time.
Even when I was so angry, so embarrassed, so scared, I never allowed those feelings to dictate my response. I kept going back to Jesus, his words about forgiveness, about the meek and the peacemakers….and I always responded in like turn.
That’s who I Am, and that’s because of my relationship with Jesus from my earliest of times.
Jesus loved children, and I was always keenly aware of that. In an age when children had absolutely no place in society and even the disciples would have kept them away from Jesus when they ran to him, Jesus had to transform their hearts and remind them that the Kindgom of God belongs to people like the children.
The children. The innocent. The Good Old Days. Our days in Eden before we grew up and lost it and were forever thrown out of it.
Its part of why I adore children and always have. They are the very Heart of God’s Kingdom. God, The Spirit of God, is Love. It is a Love that permeates and connects all things, and to know its Heart is to know the magical innocence and acceptance of children.
The Realm of God’s Spirit is an entire Cosmos permeated with compassion, empathy, forgiveness, fellowship and inclusion. It is what life is for us before we “grow up” – a life full of limitless possibility, of trust, of no pressures about bills or illness or losing a job or all the other myriad things we get concerned with now that we’re “grown up.”
Now that we’re so concerned with earthly things.
God’s Realm is one where we no longer have any concern for earthly things…like when we were very young. We had everything we needed and we didn’t concern ourselves with earthly matters. We played. We slept. We laughed (and cried…some of us more than others….you know who you are).
And at least in my personal experience, I knew I was deeply, DEEPLY loved by my parents, my family, by Jesus, and by God.
All that began when I was also listening to this song, so they are very much one-in-the-same for me, as is all the music from that era for me. That’s probably why I still listen to it.