Coty Pinckney is the senior pastor of Desiring God Community Church (DGCC), a TCTN member church in Charlotte, NC. This post originally appeared on the DGCC website.
Admit Your Need
Who is God? What is man? What is the relationship of man to God?
These are questions of worldview. The answers we give to those questions shape how we perceive and interpret the world around us.
Time and again, Jesus warns us that the attitude we assume in answering such questions, and the presuppositions we are often unaware of, can twist our thought processes and keep us from seeing the truth God has revealed.
Let’s look at three of Jesus’ statements in this regard.
First, Luke 18:24. A wealthy man who desires eternal life has just walked away sorrowful because Jesus has told him to sell all he has, give it all to the poor, and follow Him. Jesus then says: “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
Why is it difficult for the wealthy to enter the kingdom? One reason: Many rich people, like this man, think they are in control. They think that their wealth protects them from the vagaries of life. If they believe in God, they furthermore think that they have something to offer Him – that God needs them, that God even should be thankful to have them on His side.
Jesus offered this rich man eternal joy – the very life the man said he wanted! But he walked away, because he assumed that Jesus asked him to give up more than he was to gain. He assumed that he just needed to tweak his life in some way to make himself acceptable to God, worthy of eternal life. He assumed that his wealth was either a sign of God’s favor or in and of itself useful to God. Instead, Jesus revealed that it was a barrier between him and God. The rich man’s assumptions were deadly.
We’ll consider the second and third statements together:
Matthew 18:3: ”Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 11:25-26: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”
Jesus says that some truth – indeed, the most important truth – cannot be known apart from God revealing it. Although this statement is perfectly reasonable once we admit the possibility of a Creator God, many today begin with the assumption that Jesus’ statement is false. They assume that (a) we are rational beings and (b) we can come to know all important truths through reasoning and experimentation. With those assumptions, there obviously is no role for revelation.
But children know they need revelation. Children know they don’t know many things, and they need others to teach them. So they ask question after question – sometimes to the point of driving their parents crazy!
Children also know they are dependent creatures, who need the shelter and protection that others provide. Children thus know they are not self-sufficient – either intellectually or physically.
Note that this attitude is the opposite to that of the rich man in the earlier story. Jesus, in effect, told the rich man to become dependent on Him. And the rich man went away, sorrowful in his self-sufficiency.
Jesus tells us that all of us must assume the dependent attitude of a child. We must cease assuming that we can know all that is important apart from His revelation. If we continue to believe we are self-sufficient, we will never know what is of greatest importance. We will never see the revealed truth that is right before our eyes – the truth that the Father has revealed to little children – to both literal little children, as well as to those who have become like little children and so entered the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus tells you, He tells me: “You are needy people. Admit it! You need revelation; you need guidance; you need empowering. Acknowledge it! You need forgiveness. Confess it! Quit assuming that your intelligence, your riches, your education, your accomplishments, your position, your reading, or your moral life qualify you to come into God’s presence, or to stand as judge over Him, His Word, and His actions. Instead: Come to Me – humbly, broken, and contrite, like a little child – and I will give you exactly what you need! Come to Me – repentant, seeking, asking – and I will choose to reveal the Father to you.”
This is Jesus’ challenge: Quit trying to establish your own righteousness, your own brilliance, your own status. Quit assuming it’s even possible to do that. Instead, like a child, acknowledge your neediness. Come to Him. He promises to you rest, peace, and fulfillment.
Who is God? What is man? What is the relationship of man to God? Jesus reveals these answers – to those who become like little children.
By Coty Pinckney