My four-year-old grandson never learnt to walk. That was just a stage on the way to learning to run because he runs everywhere. Except when he is riding his bike! He actually taught himself to ride in the aisles of Kmart – without trainer wheels! It’s a recent development and when he came to visit at Easter he was up before the rest of the family and showed me how he could ride while he was still dressed in his pajamas and slippers.
This boy is fearless. His confidence grows faster than his skills and he had no sooner mastered (read, got over confident) the gravel driveways around the farm when he wanted to build a jump for the bike. We built a small ramp out of an old door and some bricks, made him put on long pants and long sleeves as well as his helmet and held our breath. Fearful parents and fearless child both survived.
I want more of that boy in me. I don’t expect that I’ll be getting on a bike and going over jumps but I want to be adventurous, curious, open to the future, looking for new challenges and not letting fear of falling hold me back. I want to be fearless in every sense of the word!
I often wonder what Jesus meant when he said, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” But I’m sure it has something to do with this fearless attitude.
They tell us that children need five things in order to be able to grow up fearless: unconditional love, opportunities to take on new roles, to know that it’s okay to fail, for us to be present with them, watching, appreciating, and empowering them.
This sounds to me like what I believe God is like and what a good church or faith community should be like.
We all need “unconditional love”. To feel secure and know that there is nothing we can do that will change God’s love for us.
We need opportunities to “put ourselves out there”. To get involved in church and community activities. To try out new roles and/or responsibilities, meet new people, make new friends. Basically, stepping outside of our comfort zone, develops an “anything is possible” mentality.
To know that “failure is okay”. We live in an imperfect world and the downside of “having a go” is that sometimes we will miss the mark/fall short and have to admit that we are wrong, say sorry, work out where we can improve and accept that we can be forgiven “seventy times seven”.
The idea of God being present and watching our every action has been presented as if he/she is trying to catch us out. But the God that Jesus shows is much more like the doting parent delighting in the adventures of his children. My kids were always wanting to know that I was watching them with interest when they were playing, climbing, etc.
God empowers us to make choices and invites to join in mission to a hurting world. In our church this means members are empowered to choose, to hold differing opinions, to think and act for themselves and with others to build a better world. There isn’t a rule book to follow or a pre-determined answer to every complex problem but there is love, there is risk and we would be fearless as we face the challenges and opportunities ahead.
This is the gospel, and it’s fearless.