Matthew 11:25-26 (NIV) At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”
The kingdom of heaven, though based in infinite and unspeakable things, is still best understood by those who approach it simply, like a child. The learned Pharisees, teachers of the law, and priests could not “get” the kingdom, because they got continually caught up in debating about it, endlessly trying to dissect God’s words to try to see things more clearly.
A botanist may dissect a beautiful rose, carefully sketching each leaf and petal, and try to grasp its essence, all the way down to the cellular level. But when he is done, no matter how skilled he may be in deconstructing it, what he comes out with lacks the simple nature of “rose,” a thing that is grasped easily by the child who oohs at the deep red color, and sniffs deeply with her nose buried in the velvety petals, reveling in the sweet-acrid aroma.
In the same way, a biologist may dissect a frog, skillfully isolating and sketching every structure in exquisite detail. But when she is done, no matter how skilled she may be in deconstructing it, what she comes out with lacks the simple nature of “frog,” a thing that is grasped easily by the child who tries to follow its rapid hops in an effort to catch it, who shivers slightly at its cold, moist texture, and who tries to imitate the croaks that it makes.
Those who lose themselves in parsing the words of Scripture in order to wring every nuance out of each Greek or Hebrew word, and who agonize over sentence structure and variations in spellings, may dissect the kingdom of God very ably. But when they are done, no matter how skillful they may be in deconstructing it, what they come out with lacks the simple nature of the kingdom of God, a thing that is grasped easily by the child who senses God’s presence in the dark of the night and in every cool breeze; who simply exults when needs are met in miraculous ways, without having to explain it theologically; and who sings joyful and simple songs of praise to God for the pure joy of lifting their hearts to Him.
The study of Scripture is necessary and important. But every botanist who really wants to know roses needs to step out of their study to walk through a fragrant garden warmed by the summer sun, and relish in the colors, textures, and aromas with which they are surrounded. Every biologist who really wants to know frogs needs to step out of their lab and try to catch one, barefooted and bare-handed, and to lay back on dew-dampened grass to hear their choruses in the morning. And every theologian who really wants to know God’s kingdom must get out of their armchair and their scholarly discussions from time to time and approach it as a little child, to fall in love with the simple words of Jesus and the fascinating word-pictures He paints; to take on His life in the world by doing what He did, loving who He loved, and serving how He served; and to experience the raw awe and wonder of God’s presence, purity, power, passion and purpose for their lives each day.
Father, it is so easy for us to lose track of You in the intricacies of Your word, and to mistake deep understanding of the Scriptures for deep fellowship with You. Help me to be a little child today in Your presence, so that I can experience the wonder of You afresh. Amen.