Isaiah 6:1-13; Psalm 138:1-8; 1 Corinthians 14:12b-20; Luke 5:1-11
I remember when I was younger how embarrassing it would be to be found ignorant of something. Most people don't like to be seen as naive yet in Pauls first epistle to the people of Corinth we find that this is exactly what Paul calls the followers of Christ to be in the twentieth verse of the fourteenth chapter, "Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature."
I have known the laughter and the chiding of others because I didn't catch something that was said. I wish I could say that I was innocent all along, but I have not lived a life that is like an infant to evil, as Paul states should be our desire. I will however state that God seems to have put something in my spirit that I used to fight against that sometimes will cause me not to look upon the evil or catch innuendo that will lead my thinking down paths that may not be honoring to Christ. For example, when I was in Seminary my wife and I went to downtown Minneapolis with a friend to the Christmas Parade. Now it was cold so we did not desire to stand outside so we sat inside one of the local pubs that looked out onto the street. As we were there enjoying each others company over a few beverages my wife and her friend went to the restroom and there my wife saw a woman with a tiara and another woman in the restroom made a comment on how she wished she had a tiara. My wife kindly responded, "I think all women should have a tiara!" After hearing this, the woman smiled and engaged my wife in some light conversation and then the woman ended up following my wife and her friend back to the table. While sitting at the table we had conversation with this woman and being a Seminarian the conversation led to the topic of the woman's life and faith. Somewhere in the midst of this conversation the woman made a comment to my wife and her friend that I missed, so my wife and her friend excused themselves to the restroom. Apparently, the comment was odd and my wife and her friend excused themselves so they would not laugh at the woman. This left me and this woman talking about her life, her family, and her faith. Personally, since I had missed the inappropriate comment, I felt compassion on this woman and was seeking to bring her the Gospel and let her know the love of Christ. I heard the brokenness of the woman and heard how she had been used and abused. For me this woman was unaware of God's desire for her and when she abruptly left with an odd comment when my wife and her friend returned, I was confused.
Now my wife and her friend chided me some after explaining to me that this woman's comment was odd and lewd which is why they had left and then clarified the comment the woman had made to me when she left, I felt embarrassed but also a little relieved. You see, I was unaware of the advances that were being made and was seeking to bring the Gospel to a broken person. If I had known, I don't know that I could've or would've been able to share the faith that I so love with this person. I probably would've been at minimum uncomfortable, but possibly offended. For me, the conversation had innocence to it that once things were clarified was removed. At the time I was an infant to the evil that was confronting me, but was mature in my thinking as it pertains to the faith. The goal, for me, was to build up the church by building another in the faith. Now I wish that I was always that oblivious because, at that time, there was really no danger for me. If the woman had made any physical advances it would have sent an alarm, but my ears and my spirit were kept from the verbal advances so I was able to proclaim Christ. Ultimately, that is what we are all called to do.
We aren't to be dumb about the dangers within this world, but as an infant the temptations to engage in evil is not there. An infant does not have the knowledge truly. Children, also, have a natural innocence to most evil. It is one of the greatest tragedies of our age as we see a world that tries to sexualize everything. It is why the sexual abuse of a child is so heinous because it robs a child of innocence. That innocence, as Christians, we should seek to protect for as long as possible. Ultimately, we are able to maintain that innocence or receive it anew when we turn over ourselves to Christ and seek to glorify him in every aspect of how we live our lives. Marriage is the place where we can innocently engage in the glorious gift of sexuality as husband and wife as God intended with the ultimate goal of bearing and raising children that fear, love, and trust God above all else. It is in that union that, with God in the center, that we find refuge. In Martin Luther's On the Estate of Marriage, we can find great insight on how marriage and God's design for it were pure and holy and, though we are fallen, we should strive to live out that union reflecting our Lord in every aspect of it. At the time of Martin Luther, he saw how marriage was supposed to be as opposed to how it was and sought to guide other Christians to live in marriage as a better union then often seen in the world of his time. Luther gave his wife Katie great respect and honor and saw her as his helpmeet. He went contrary to the age and made Katie the executor of the estate upon his passing which was honored because of the respect that the Prince had for him. Luther did not see Katie as one who was beneath him, but as God intended for marriage as a true union of two become one. In the world then and in the world today many would mock the naivety of Luther's view. The image that is often painted in the world on marriage which also permeates the Church is the idea that marriage is an old union that places women under men and in the biblical sense makes women merely property. Now it is true that throughout the millennia since the Fall often women have been treated as such. There are Christian traditions that do put women under the thumb of men and they use portions of Scripture to justify this, but this has not been always the way and often is influenced by non-biblical cultural ideals. This is the struggle that we face since the Adam and Eve realized their nakedness. Our innocence is no longer protected because we have received the knowledge of good and evil. Unfortunately, the evil around us often parades itself as good - sexual empowerment, self-pleasure, indulgence, fake adoration, etc. It is easy to be tempted. To be mature in our thinking is to be aware of how fleeting all the things of this world truly are and to remain focused on the eternal, which is God. As Christians, we aren't called to hate nor should we seek to be offended. I pray for more opportunities of ministry that causes me to be unaware of the temptations that surround me in order to bring to Gospel to one who is caught up and seeking to be pulled out of it. I still wonder about the woman at the pub and pray that she has found the only source of true happiness and joy. We live in a world that has turned away from the things of God and is often more like the world of Judges, doing that which they find pleasing and right since they had no king in those days. Our world does not recognize the one true King of the Universe and those of us who are followers of Christ are his ambassadors. We are called to proclaim the truth of the Word in a world that is not yet ready to hear and, like Simon Peter, there will be those that once they see Christ in us will fall to their knees confessing their brokenness and receiving the fullness of our Lord's forgiveness and new life. Let us all be infants to evil and mature in our thinking and may Christ's love fill you and flow from you abundantly. Amen.