Mar 16 2017
Personally, I was one of those kids who always felt comfortable participating in adult conversations rather than those of my peers. I like to tell myself it’s because I was smarter than average, but I wonder if the adults in question thought it was just because I was more annoying than average.
Whatever the motivation, the facts are the same: I wanted to be part of what the grown-ups were saying. Their conversations were about things that I hadn’t yet experienced, and I learned a lot about the world around me through listening to them.
I also felt as though I had a contribution to make to them, and the adults in my life were patient enough to hear me out and only laugh behind my back. Most of the time. But I like to think (there’s my revisionist history at work again) that I did, on occasion, say things that were worth hearing.
Now that I’m a dad, I see the situation I was in from the other side, and it’s fascinating. My oldest son is particularly adept at inserting himself into our conversations. He mostly just wants to listen, which is fine, but it’s interesting to watch as his immature kid brain tries to decode various pieces of the conversation. Often he’ll ask questions about something we’ve said, wanting us to explain the entire backstory to him. We try to oblige him as much as possible, but it’s not always possible to explain the entire story just so that he can understand the one point.
Every once in a while, though, his insight into the discussion is really helpful. Because his kid brain can’t decode all of the subtleties in the conversation, he has a way of cutting through the situational clutter and seeing things from an uncomplicated perspective. And that perspective is sometimes exactly what I need in order to realize that these things I see as huge dilemmas are often quite simple to understand.
This week at Parkland we’re looking at a story from Jesus’ childhood when he, like my son, participated in an adult conversation. And the perspective that he brought to that conversation was so unique and insightful that, as Luke describes, “all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.”
Luke doesn’t tell us what was so amazing about his answers, but I wonder if it had something to do with his perspective. Not his perspective as God, but his perspective as a child. The thing is that Jesus was a fairly normal kid. He didn’t put on magic shows for his friends where he’d turn water into grape juice (not wine, because these were kids, after all) or bring their family pets back from the dead. He simply exhibited child-like, uncomplicated faith, and, because of that, he was able to cut through the clutter and speak the truth to these educated men.
Jesus knew what was true, and he said it. And in doing so, he confounded the wisdom of the wise. That’s the kind of faith I want to have.
Anyway, there’s more to this story than I have space for here, so come out to Parkland this Sunday to hear more about this story, our amazing incarnational Saviour, and the mission of hope to which he calls us.