“Truly I say to you, unless you become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3).
A beautiful story appeared in the July newsletter of the Emmanuel Centre, a Perth-based self-help group for people with disabilities.
In the article, an anonymous author shared the experience of growing up with sibling Kevin, who lives with an intellectual disability.
The writer describes the simple daily life of 30-year-old Kevin who has the communication capabilities of a seven-year-old, and the awe and envy felt for his intimate relationship with the Creator.
Kevin has a seamless connection to God. It is a trust that allows Kevin to view the world with transparent wonder.
“Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child,” the person wrote, “Kevin seems to know God – to really be friends with him in a way that is difficult for an ‘educated’ person to grasp.”
It is an understanding shared by US evangelist Bill Johnson – he says we live in a world so influenced by logic we have become disconnected from the supernatural reality of our existence.
We have made the mistake, he claims, of trying to fit God into our natural world rather than the other way around.
Kevin doesn’t have this struggle. His relationship with God is not anchored by the need to insert human reasoning into every situation.
Jesus, too, lived with such a profound intimacy and was able to interpret the world through the eyes of his heavenly Father.
Jesus’ mission included refocusing the world’s outlook, to see beyond the limitation of human senses and view the world as God created it – not as man defined it.
He expressed this desire within the only prayer he taught his disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”.
He was, in effect, telling them, and us, the perfection of heaven could become a reality on earth.
With faith, he would also declare, mountains could be moved, the sick could be healed and the dead could be raised.
Essentially, he was stating, the natural world came forth from the supernatural and should always be interpreted with this understanding.
What humanity has done, however, with the advancement of education throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, was to reverse this understanding and, rather than marry faith to reason, chose instead to divorce them.
This “Age of Enlightenment” effectively triggered a ‘Darkening of Faith’. As our understanding of the world broadened, our vision of the supernatural dimmed.
By trying to confine an infinite God within the finite boundaries of reason, we effectively blocked out the supernatural nature of our being and became prisoners of our intellect.
It was the struggle typified by St Peter. When Jesus invited him to step beyond the reasoning of his own mind and enter the supernatural realm by walking on water, it became a reality.
It was only when he turned his eyes from Christ that his earthly conditioning overcame him and he began to sink.
Peter, along with the other disciples, however, was able to break free from this world of reasoning and, through a surrendering to the power of the Holy Spirit, able to embrace the reality of the supernatural.
It was a dimension that became inseparable from the early Church – miracles were expected because they were the fulfilment of God’s promise for their faith.
They saw the world through the eyes of their heavenly Father.
Tragically, however, much of the world, including elements within the Church, has used the advancement of scientific and intellectual knowledge, themselves gifts from God, as an excuse to shelf any supernatural dimension to the archives of history, under the banner of “we now know better”.
Reason and logic became the only goggles in which the world was interpreted and anything that couldn’t be explained in this capacity simply meant that a rational explanation had not yet been discovered.
Bill Johnson is adamant this is why we do not see the supernatural intervention in the world today that we did when the Church was in its infancy – we simply do not have the eyes of expectant faith.
Critics will, of course, argue that human evolution has moved us beyond such an immature understanding.
It is an argument that draws me back to the concluding words of the story from Kevin’s sibling, “One day when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our heart… Kevin won’t be surprised at all!”