Like A Child Before God

I often marvel at the courage of children.

They could dance, sing, recite poems, tell stories, act, and practically do anything on stage in front of a lot of people. They seem to possess this confidence brought out by their innocence. They seem to do things without malice or care for anything in this world.

People seem amazed at this as well. Whenever a show is presented by children, the venue always overflows to the brim. They enjoy watching those little tikes try their best to give a performance and even though mistakes happen, they laugh at those cute kids as they make each mistake. The kids on the other hand are encouraged to do better or do worse but still get a lot of laughs from adults. We sometimes try to let the mistakes and the bloopers pass for our enjoyment and for the enjoyment of the kids.

I have seen a lot of kids who wouldn’t have second thoughts in showing off their talents. Some are even too ecstatic. Once there was a children’s choir musical. It was about a Christmas story. There were song and dance numbers from the kids and some acting from both kids and moms. Like any stereotypical western Christmas story, the background is a white Christmas with lots of lights. To add more to the effects of the play, the organizers planned something the children really didn’t expect: snow. Actually It wasn’t snow, more like Styrofoam shavings that were thrown from the ceiling.

To the amusement of everyone, the moment the snow fell down during the kids’ finale number, the youngest ones broke off and started playing with the snow. Others couldn’t help but look at where the snow came from. Others were jumping up and down in excitement. Still others tried to grab the Styrofoam on their hairs, Santa hats, and costumes. All the kids started playing. They didn’t mind the humiliation or embarrassment, they saw a plaything, and they played with it. It was such a ruckus, the choreographer who happens to be my sister just allowed them to play. They were kids anyway and it was their job to play and have fun.

Children are fearless. They have this uncanny courage fueled by curiosity and the sense of security. They don’t know that they could get away with anything, but they seem to know that even if they made a great mistake, mommy and daddy will surely pick them up and make them stop crying.

Could we have that same dependence as a child?

Makes me wonder if this is what Jesus meant when he 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.” Matthew 18:3

I believe it is not impossible for a full grown person to have the same dependence to God and courage from men as a little child. A lot of men and women have done that very thing. Some have even done that all their lives. In our day and age, it may seem impossible but looking back at what others have done before us, we could learn a lot.

Martin Luther was one of those people. Picking up where the previous chapter left, the 7th Chapter of the Great Controversy continues Luther’s story.

After realizing the errors of the Holy Roman Catholic Church during his time, he was met with a lot of opposition from the pope and from the leaders of the church in Germany. He may have had followers from the masses but majority of the leaders didn’t have his support.

A young Holy Roman Emperor rose at that time. Emperor Charles V ascended the throne at the tender age of 19. He became the emperor amidst the Reformation movement of Luther. Even in our modern times, the tender age of 19 is still an age prone to mistakes. The age may be acknowledged in some parts of the world as a time when they have to move out of the house and be independent, it is still an age where passions are strong and errors are stronger. Thus, the young emperor was easily persuaded by the papists to send Luther on trial before the Diet.

The Diet in those times was the assembly of all the dignitaries, statesmen and learned leaders including church leaders from all of the German states.  They were all to gather at Worms, Germany. It just so happened that the talk of the town was Luther. All the heads of states had mixed support for the Reformer and they wanted to hear him talk. Some wanted him to recant, others wanted to hear him defend his stand. Still others just wanted to cheer and listen as what happens in most legislative houses across the world.

Despite warnings from friends, Luther had the courage and dependence on God to face the Diet. His friends most likely have heard of the tragedy of John Huss and Jerome who were attacked the moment they went to trial. They had the same fear for their friend.

Yet the reformer was firm. He will go to Worms come what may.

“The papists do not desire my coming to Worms, but my condemnation and my death. It matters not. Pray not for me, but for the word of God…. Christ will give me His Spirit to overcome these ministers of error. I despise them during my life; I shall triumph over them by my death. They are busy at Worms about compelling me to retract; and this shall be my retraction: I said formerly that the pope was Christ’s vicar; now I assert that he is our Lord’s adversary, and the devil’s apostle.” (GC)

The reformer wanted God to be his guide. He was confident that even with death waiting for him at Worms, God would still continue the reformation. As he journeyed, he was greeted with applause by townsmen who supported him. Other towns didn’t do as much as look at him. In each town, he would preach God’s word. A Christian’s life is lived serving the Most High, even while traveling. At one point he was warned that he would be burned at the stake. His prompt reply was “Though they should kindle a fire all the way from Worms to Wittenberg, the flames of which reached to heaven, I would walk through it in the name of the Lord; I would appear before them; I would enter the jaws of this behemoth, and break his teeth, confessing the Lord Jesus Christ.” (GC)

Imagine the strength and courage in those words. Facing death in the eye. Easy for some of us to say, but few people could look at death straight in the eye and declare the name of the Lord while doing so. At Worms, he was unharmed, but he was put on trial after a day’s rest. He was forced to recant all of his writings and all of his treatises against the Roman Catholic Church and the Papacy. He was fearless and sure of the security that his Father will provide. He stood up as a courageous child of God against the young ignorant emperor.

“Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require from me a clear, simple, and precise answer, I will give you one, and it is this: I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to the councils, because it is clear as the day that they have frequently erred and contradicted each other. Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the word of God, I cannot and I will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen.”(GC)

Though achieving an ovation from the members of the Diet who had his support, his biggest supporter came from heaven and he was pleading for that very support before he uttered those words. He knelt down in prayer.

“O almighty and everlasting God, how terrible is this world! Behold, it openeth its mouth to swallow me up, and I have so little trust in Thee…. If it is only in the strength of this world that I must put my trust, all is over…. My last hour is come, my condemnation has been pronounced…. O God, do Thou help me against all the wisdom of the world. Do this … Thou alone; … for this is not my work, but Thine. I have nothing to do here, nothing to contend for with these great ones of the world…. But the cause is Thine, … and it is a righteous and eternal cause. O Lord, help me! Faithful and unchangeable God, in no man do I place my trust…. All that is of man is uncertain; all that cometh of man fails…. Thou hast chosen me for this work…. Stand at my side, for the sake of Thy well-beloved Jesus Christ, who is my defense, my shield, and my strong tower.” (GC)

After all the commotion and the controversy with the Diet, the papists lead by Aleander, the papal legate in Germany, urged the emperor to crush the reformation reasoning that the emperor’s predecessors would do the same. Here was a snake feeding false information and doubt to the young ruler. Aleander was successful. The emperor issued an edict against him. But God has always been prepared, He caused Luther’s words to obtain Fredrick of Saxony’s support. Fredrick plotted a way of saving Luther by abducting him even before the men of Charles were able to set their trap and hiding him away on an unknown location even to Fredrick, himself. For a time, God hid Luther from the world, as He did to Elijah in his time. The reason was simple: “Satan seeks to divert men’s thoughts and affections from God, and to fix them upon human agencies; he leads them to honor the mere instrument, and to ignore the Hand that directs all the events of providence. Too often, religious leaders who are thus praised and reverenced lose sight of their dependence upon God, and are led to trust in themselves. As a result, they seek to control the minds and consciences of the people, who are disposed to look to them for guidance instead of looking to the word of God.” (GC)

Luther was as a child God. He stood up in total dependence even at the face of death. Why can’t we?

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