Losing to Gain — A Look at “Simple Religion”

Last week we talked about how failure is a step towards winning, and that we have to step out and try something (really anything) in order to get closer towards winning at anything we set out to do. Taking this idea a step further, and into the area of religion and spirituality, this week, let’s talk about a similar idea: Losing to Gain.

Both in my personal study time reading through Jesus’ life, and in the worships my wife and I share each evening, the same theme is being presented: Faith, Belief, and Religion are all “simple”. What starts as something simple and clear in the Bible, over time has been made complicated and confusing.

Simple Religion

Yesterday, in my personal study time, I read the passages where Jesus invites the children to be with Him (Mark 10:13-16 / Matthew 19:13-15 / Luke 18:15-17), and He tells those around Him, “Whoever doesn’t receive the kingdom of God as a little child receives it will never enter it.” Something stood out to me as I read the three gospels accounts of this event — Luke defines “child” a differently than Matthew and Mark and this difference stood out as a huge truth in my mind. Luke defines the children as “infants” or “babies” (in the NASB). In all the pictures I had seen illustrating this event, I don’t ever recall seeing babies or toddlers crawling over Jesus, but instead they all seem to depict children who are older than this.

Why is this detail important to me? Just before this, Jesus tells His followers that “children like these are part of the kingdom of God.”

Children like babies are part of the kingdom of God? That seems odd to me. I do not have any children, and I am not much of a kid person, however Jesus’ blanket statement over children who probably will never remember Jesus having held them as being part of the kingdom of God intrigued me. What is the common denominator between all of them?

The only thing I could come up with (aside from parents who believed in Jesus) is that they were close to Jesus. (Period.) No preconceived notions. No ulterior motives. No emotional baggage to cloud their minds. They were simply close to Jesus. This is simple religion, because for an infant, anything complicated is lost, ignored, and not understood.

What is “Simple Religion”? (For everyone who is older than an infant)

Simple Religion for children and adults is exactly the same as it is for infants: Simply being “close to Jesus.” Nothing complicated is necessary.

Where can we spend time with (and be close to) Jesus?

There are two places in society where Jesus will always be:

  1. Jesus will always be found in the Bible. Reading about Jesus and learning about His character as it is shown in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John) will give us a clear picture of what Jesus is like. If we are ever in doubt, this should be the first place we look.
  2. Jesus will always be with people who are hurting, suffering, and/or are outcasts. Those in these situations might not feel Jesus’ presence, but if you happen to go and meet Jesus with these outsiders, each of you will have the opportunity to be blessed. Each of you will meet Jesus.

Losing to Gain

This morning, I read about the rich young ruler. He too wanted to be close to Jesus, however there was something getting in the way: his money & his stuff. Jesus told him to sell what he had, give all the proceeds away to the poor, and he would gain treasure in heaven.

Could our stuff be getting in the way of Jesus? Could how we spend our time be getting in the way of getting a blessing?

I know I have a lot to learn in this area, however as I have studied, I have learned repeatedly that the religion Jesus modeled for us is incredibly simple, and He shared with us everything we need to know in order to receive eternal life. (More on this point next week.) 😉

Where have you met Jesus in your life? Was it during a time when you were an outsider or helping someone who was an outsider? Share your experience in the comments below.