Joshua - by Tyler Berry
I have been working at a sports camp this summer. Between the long hours, high heat, and overwhelming presence of yellow jackets, I tend to ignore the still, small voice of God. The reality is that He does speak, and He does so on a regular basis.
Roughly four weeks ago, I had the privilege of teaching a young Indian boy named Joshua Abraham. Joshua is 8, possibly 9 years old. He is also one of the smartest people I have ever met. At the beginning of each week, I tell my kids that Bible time is the most important time of the day, and even if they don't pay attention to anything I say the rest of the day, they need to pay some attention during Bible time. Now Joshua loves to ask questions. Sometimes I think he does it to see if he can confound the counselor. One day, as we were walking out to the pool, he looked up and said, "Mr. Tyler, why do you always say that Bible time is the most important part of the day?" I looked down at him and proceeded to explain that Bible time was important because it was the one time during the day where I could teach him something about Jesus. Naturally, this answer did not satisfy my young camper. He asked me why teaching them about Jesus was such a big deal to me. I paused, gathered my thoughts, and decided to tell him the typical “church” answer: “Because Jesus came and died for our sin, and that is kind of a big deal.” Thinking I had successfully dodged this line of questioning and that I could return to coasting through my day, I walked on.
If you are thinking that little Joshua would not be satisfied with this either, you are right. My charge looked a little annoyed as he asked why that was such a big deal to me personally. Understanding now that he was smarter than the average camper, I told him that it was important because it made all the difference in our eternal standing with God, and so I should treat it with respect and try to get across to the kids how big of an issue this was. Joshua looked at me, smiled a little bit, and said he understood. He ran off and jumped into the pool.
I got home that night, and as I got ready for bed, the conversation earlier that day with Joshua came back to me. I realized that God was using this hyper-intelligent camper to challenge me and to bring into light my own apathy towards the issue of salvation. He used a 9 year-old to teach me something that radically changed my perspective.
The Bible says to always be prepared to give a good account of our faith. I thought I was good at that. I love getting up and talking about what God has done in my life, how he has changed me, and how He has redeemed me. For the record, NONE OF THAT IS BAD. But I so often neglected to tell the story of what Jesus did for the world, and more importantly, the background to him doing it. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians saying, "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified". Paul didn't swagger around telling about his Christian walk, even though he had all the works to back it up. Paul taught Christ for the sake of Heaven. He focused on the simple matter of eternal salvation. And most importantly, he was able to back it up.
That is what Joshua taught me. If I want to call myself a Christian, and say that I am following after Jesus the Messiah, then I need to treat His calling with the respect and fervor it deserves. In summary, I need to practice what I claim to believe, and live in light of what i believe.
So I challenge you, as Joshua challenged me that day. What is your most important issue? Is it THE most important issue? And can you back up you talk with how you walk? I couldn't, but God is teaching me how through the mouth of a 2nd grader.