by Beverly Chao Berrus
My daughter and I recently read the story of when the children happily come to Jesus and his disciples try to shoo them away.
The story reads like this in The Jesus Storybook Bible:
“Now if you had been there, what do you think—would you have had to line up quietly to see Jesus? Do you think Jesus would’ve asked you how good you’d been before he’d give you a hug? Would you have had to be on your best behavior? And get dressed up? And not speak until your spoken to? You see, children loved Jesus, and they knew they didn’t need to do anything special for Jesus to love them. All they needed to do was to run into his arms.”
It all sounded so simple. I started thinking: Wait– what about explaining our sinful nature, repentance, and trust? What happened to the full gospel presentation? Lately, I’ve been so fixated on teaching my toddler about obedience and why it’s natural for her to disobey and sin. Sadly, the story above reminded me that I haven’t been equally conveying how Jesus simply welcomes and urges sinners to run freely to himself. Jesus doesn’t ask that we be a certain type of person to be accepted by him! Do you feel your need for Jesus? Then run! Run to him like a child and don’t look back! Our repentance displays our belief that he alone gives us the power to run to Christ, through whom we have reconciliation with God.
Based on the conversations I had been having with my daughter, I wonder if she has started believing that Mommy is only happy with her and accepting of her when she obeys. I realize that she may believe this even when I do not mean to communicate it. I’ve also wondered if the reason I’m giving that message is because I’m living it– that I feel like I need to do/perform in order to feel right with God, or to feel good about my own life. This performance-based acceptance is anti-gospel legalism. The reality is, we rise or fall based only on faith in Jesus’ performance of the law on our behalf (see Galatians).
What sinners need most is something that can only be received. For the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23)! It’s FREE! Eternal life cannot be earned! In Christ, I am a guiltless new creation. When I am lacking patience, tired of doing good, and tempted to complain about my work, I should run to my Savior with childlike faith that he will welcome me. It is good to remember that I am incredibly needy and only Jesus can supply all that I lack in faith and obedience.
I am reminded that while the gospel accomplishes so many things like our salvation, redemption, atonement, adoption, justification, reconciliation, and propitiation, it is a message so simple we must receive it like a child. I want to be stirring up my own heart and the hearts of my kids to run to Jesus because “we need the gospel of grace and the grace of the gospel” (Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, Give Them Grace).
ABOUT THE WRITER
Beverly Chao Berrus was born into a family that practiced the worship of idols and ancestors. She became a Christian in middle school and was born again into the kingdom of heaven. Bev is married to Jason and they have one daughter and a son. They live in the United Arab Emirates, where Jason serves on staff at Redeemer Church of Dubai.