OFFENCE . . . To whom is it given?

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (Reference: Matthew 18:3-7)

 

Some interesting connections being made by the historic Anabaptist (Menno Simons) being quoted today. Simons has appropriated these verse on behalf of “ . . . the poor, reckless people. . .” who are being encouraged and strengthened “in their idolatry and unbelief” by “all founders of sects and their erring spirits, who cloak their refusal to bear the cross and their ease and hypocrisy under the semblance of the Word of God . . “ It may seem, beloved, that I am piecing together quotes to make it sound like I want to, but I tell you truthfully, this is an accurate reconstruction of what Simons said! He also said of the founders of sects and their erring spirits, “They grieve the pious unto death, weaken and cause to stumble the poor wavering souls . . “ But no where, beloved, does Simons mention that this protection should be afforded children!

 

I had made a comment yesterday that Anabaptists/Mennonites of many eras appropriate and use texts for many purposes. But we try (at least my colleagues and contemporaries) to stay faithful to the intent of the verses. What Simons has passed over is that Jesus is talking about the young and innocent who believe in Jesus and God. Young innocent faith is not necessarily wavering faith nor reckless in nature. And most certainly not idolatrous!

 

Beloved, let us set aside Simons usage of these verses – indeed you might ask why I quote him at all! While Simons might have missed the mark on who these verses exhort us to protect and shield, his vehemence for protection and care is quite appropriate. I agree completely with his final question, “Tell us, dear friends, how can men [and women] include in Christian liberty that which is committed so evidently against so many passages in the Scriptures, against brotherly [and sisterly love] and universal love, and contrary to the example of so many saints?”

 

May you beloved not cause one innocent to sin! And may you as a child of God be protected from others. Selah!

OFFENCE . . . To whom is it given?

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (Reference: Matthew 18:3-7)

 

Some interesting connections being made by the historic Anabaptist (Menno Simons) being quoted today. Simons has appropriated these verse on behalf of “ . . . the poor, reckless people. . .” who are being encouraged and strengthened “in their idolatry and unbelief” by “all founders of sects and their erring spirits, who cloak their refusal to bear the cross and their ease and hypocrisy under the semblance of the Word of God . . “ It may seem, beloved, that I am piecing together quotes to make it sound like I want to, but I tell you truthfully, this is an accurate reconstruction of what Simons said! He also said of the founders of sects and their erring spirits, “They grieve the pious unto death, weaken and cause to stumble the poor wavering souls . . “ But no where, beloved, does Simons mention that this protection should be afforded children!

 

I had made a comment yesterday that Anabaptists/Mennonites of many eras appropriate and use texts for many purposes. But we try (at least my colleagues and contemporaries) to stay faithful to the intent of the verses. What Simons has passed over is that Jesus is talking about the young and innocent who believe in Jesus and God. Young innocent faith is not necessarily wavering faith nor reckless in nature. And most certainly not idolatrous!

 

Beloved, let us set aside Simons usage of these verses – indeed you might ask why I quote him at all! While Simons might have missed the mark on who these verses exhort us to protect and shield, his vehemence for protection and care is quite appropriate. I agree completely with his final question, “Tell us, dear friends, how can men [and women] include in Christian liberty that which is committed so evidently against so many passages in the Scriptures, against brotherly [and sisterly love] and universal love, and contrary to the example of so many saints?”

 

May you beloved not cause one innocent to sin! And may you as a child of God be protected from others. Selah!

USELESS CHATTER . . . . Inadvisable for any age

“The lips of talkers will be telling such things as pertain not unto them: but the words of such as have understanding are weighed in the balance. The heart of fools is in their mouth: but the mouth of the wise is in their heart. When the ungodly curseth Satan, he curseth his own soul. A whisperer defileth his own soul, and is hated wheresoever he dwelleth.” (Reference: Sirach 21:25-28 )

The writings of Sirach are written/designed as one line pieces of wisdom, and the verses do not necessarily flow one from another. But there is a common amongst this collection of verses. There are people who speak before they think, measuring and weighing their words to make sure they are true and wise. And then there are the foolish and ungodly who do not think before they speak but babble and gibber about anything.

It is not surprising that exhortations from the historic Anabaptists about useless chatter are given to children. I am glad, beloved, that I did not grow up during those long ago times. Lenaert Plovier wrote to his children, cautioning them to “be not obstinate, or gainsaying, or quarrelsome, but kind. Neither lie; for it is written: “The mouth that lieth slayeth the soul; for a liar has no part in the kingdom of God, nay, his part shall be in the burning lake.” Wisd. 1:11; Revelation 21:8. . . . Be always modes in your words, as becomes children. And when you have come to years of understanding, take a Testament, and see what Christ has left and commanded us there; for all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness . . . 2 Tim. 3:16, 17. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; for man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord. Titus 2:11, 12; Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4.”

That is not to say it is any easier being a child during these modern times. I tried to contrast the prevailing society in the time of the historic Anabaptists with now, and the times then just as now are hard and trying. I grew up I guess in a golden time when children were protected and insulated from much of the harsh realities. I think my children, for the most part, grew up in that sort of milieu too. Maybe it is not so much the year or current events when children grow and mature, but the parents and adults who raise children, protecting them from the evil that is a part of the fallen world. While Plovier’s advice might be wisdom from the heart of a parent, it does not take much into account the babbling, silliness and inexperience of children. There is a lot to be said for letting children BE children for a good amount of time. Would that the times we live in be without worry and care like the world of a child.

May the Lord God who is parent to us all raise us up with gentle and forbearance, excusing our innocent idle chatter until we have become wise, and older. Selah!