This summer I have learned some important truths from God's word by human observation at my neighborhood swimming pool. But, that in and of itself is biblical, since we are all image bearers of Christ. Of course, His creation is instructive about its Creator. Sure, I have also learned who makes the best BBQ, whose kids can throw and catch and whose kids can't, who can nail a flip off the diving board and who (me) is better off leaving that to the young folks. My neighborhood pool is an amazing teacher to me, but one lesson has stood out above all the rest. Here it is, "kids will share the gospel but not their toys. Adults will share their toys but not the gospel."
One recent Saturday afternoon while basking in the hot Kentucky sun, I had to pull several children in my family to the side to remind them that sharing our pool toys and including other children in games we are playing is not an option in our family, it's a mandate. They don't play. You don't play. You have. They have. Got it? Good. That's how we operate. My children and nephews went about their business including others with some degree of joy and some degree of "have to," but I felt like they learned their lesson. Then, those same children turned into teachers to me, when I overheard a group of kids making fun of them for extending an invite to join us at church the following day. My youngin's were being challenged about why they go to church and why they believe in God? I heard the objections turn personal, but then I heard the rebuttals turn to glory. The youngest in my family did not back down, did not get angry, but they did not wilt. They responded in love. They told their friends that church is not a place but a people. That God loves everyone and those who believe in Him get to go to heaven. That Jesus died on the cross so we could be forgiven. They extended the invitation to their friends again to come to church and see what God is all about. These are 4-15 year olds. Not scholars, but believers. Not perfect theologians, but perfect children of God. See, in one minute they have to be told to share their toys, but at no point did they have to be told to share the gospel. They aren't old enough to know better yet, so they still do better.
While observing these babes boldly proclaim the gospel, I was engaged in conversations with the dads of the children who were rejecting their invites. We were talking about getting together later in the week to go to shooting ranges, ball games, card games, cookouts, and cigar smoking sessions, but not once in our hobby sharing invites did church or the gospel come up. You want some honest truth about your East Campus Discipleship Pastor? I didn't really want to be in these conversations to begin with, nor did I really want to participate in any of these invites. WOW! That doesn't sound too much like a qualified pastor, does it? But, it is honest. I didn't have any plans of inviting these guys to church with me either. But, then I was overcome with the truth of Matthew 18:3. And He (Jesus) said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." I would have shared my pistol, my basketball, my deck of cards, my BBQ sauce, and second hand smoked a cigar with my neighbors, but I had not invited them to know my Jesus, who desires to be their Jesus. So, in the heat of the Kentucky sun and the heat of conviction, I invited my neighbors to church. See, adults will share their toys but not the gospel until we become like little children who have childlike faith in the face of adult sized opposition.
Disciple makers, we sometimes look to giants in the faith as unachievably devoted; set aside for purposes greater than we. Jesus taught us that faithfulness is measured in childlike obedience with the reward being the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven. The next time you are prone to invite someone to join in your favorite hobby, might you be better off inviting them to know our Jesus? Might they be better off if they accept? The resounding answer to those questions is found in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." My prayer for you and for me is that we will go forth, unashamedly acting like gospel sharing children. Grace and peace to my adult brothers and sisters in Christ as we go and share the gospel while sharing our toys.
See, adults will share their toys but not the gospel until we become like little children who have childlike faith in the face of adult sized opposition.
Photo by Agung Pandit Wiguna from Pexels