by Ernest O’Neill
You’re stupid if you don’t believe in God! This is what Psalm 14:1 states in the Bible. The actual words used are “The fool has said in his heart ‘There is no God'”. Karl Barth, the German theologian, says that such people are stupid because they reject reality and are forced to build a whole system of ideas on the fantasy that the universe occurred by sheer chance. This, he points out, is the tree of knowledge of good and evil that our forefathers depended on for their survival in a world where they decided to ignore God.
It is this worldly wisdom that most of us have learned throughout our lives. In our adolescent years, we have to be told by our parents that “nobody will look after us but ourselves so we must get good jobs”; this piece of knowledge of good and evil shocks us out of our childlike trust that there will always be a Father who will look after us. Similarly, the stupidity that we cannot “get on in life without some strategic lies” has to drive out our childlike tendency to blurt out the truth without thinking of the consequences at all.
Gradually, as we grow more “mature”, we lose touch with this deeper wisdom with which we seem to be born and learn this worldly knowledge of good and evil which is based on the stupid idea that the world came from nothing by sheer chance and is maintained by no one.
Is there any way to recover that fresh, pristine intuition that we used to have as children?
Getting Back to Reality
The unique human being, Jesus of Nazareth, put the answer like this: “calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven'” (Matthew 18:2-4). The first step back towards that intuitive knowledge we used to sense in our childhood is to humble ourselves and admit we’ve lost something. Don’t press the same old button that you have to “go along to get along”, you can’t afford to be a door-mat etc. etc.. Humble yourself and admit that the knowledge of good and evil that you’ve accumulated gets pretty stale and dry. Moreover, though it can lead to security in life yet the life itself can become very boring and unexciting. Even when it seems exciting on the outside, it is all fatally predictable on the inside. You wonder at times what it would be like to do something different, something unusual for you; how wonderful it would be if there were someone who knew you better than your father or mother-who could introduce some new thoughts and attitudes into you!
The first step back to such freshness is to “humble” yourself and admit that things could be better. Everyday life could be more exciting; it could be more noble than it is. It could benefit from being lived on a higher plain. This is the first vital step to take-admit that you could be wrong-life could be better than it is. You could do with some new thoughts and some new direction inside.
Become a Little Child
The second step is to “become like children”. Just look around you; look up at the stars-see them orbiting longer and more precisely than our best satellites. We used a lot of intellect and a lot of technology to put them there. The stars didn’t get there by chance. Don’t learn to twist your natural intuition: be like a child-go with the flow. There must be an intellect behind the universe-and, if this man Jesus is what the historical evidence indicates, then His Father is in fact yours, too. A little child acts naturally in accordance with his best judgment-reaches out his arms trustingly to his father.
That’s the vital second step back to the intuitive knowledge that you vaguely remember possessing in your early years-begin to look out into space, begin to look into inner space in your own head-for some sign that the Father of the universe is trying to get through to you. This is the tenuous beginning of faith inside you-the first expression of dependence on somebody beyond the world-something that a little child has no trouble in admitting and freely expressing.
Let’s talk in the next article about what such candid honesty can lead to.