An artist visited a museum where one of his masterpieces was on exhibit. As he approached the painting he noticed that the museum had placed one of his earlier, lesser known works beside the masterpiece. He stood there comparing both paintings and began to feel sad. Just then someone recognized him and said to him, “You should be pleased because of the progress you have made.” But the artist didn’t share that opinion. He just smiled somewhat sadly and said, “It grieves me that I realized so little of the promise I showed in my youth.”
Truth be told, many Christians would have to say the same thing about their Christian growth. They showed such promise when they were young! They went to church. They studied the Bible. They prayed. They gave. They witnessed. They lived lives of holiness. But then they got older and ran into some trouble.
When conflict within the church caused them to become disillusioned, they stopped attending. When differing interpretations made studying the Bible harder, they gave up on it. When their prayers weren’t answered to their satisfaction, they quit praying. When their financial situation took a downturn, they eliminated their giving. When they saw no fruit from their witnessing, they hushed. When God didn’t seem to reward the life of holiness, they turned to worldly pursuits and pleasures.
Christian friend, do you find yourself anywhere in this description? If you do, I urge you to find your way back to the fellowship you once had with God. And, please, work on the fellowship before you start working on the service. If you can get the fellowship where it needs to be, the service will inevitably flow, but if the fellowship isn’t there the service will seem like drudgery. Try to rediscover that simple, childlike faith that you once had, a faith that was sincerely shown even in a rhyming prayer: “God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we all are fed. Thank you, Lord, for daily bread. Amen.”
Consider Matthew 18:1-4:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Isn’t it fascinating that Jesus said that we must “become as little children” AFTER we are “converted”? Why would He say such a thing? He said it because He knew that we are prone to become more hardened, cynical, and doubtful as we age. The adult life has a way of knocking the childlike faith out of us, and even authentic Christian conversion doesn’t eliminate that tendency. That’s why we adults must become again “as little children.” Is that a tall order? You’d better believe it. But is it one worth meeting? Absolutely, because when we meet it that creates a true masterpiece.