Summary: The first of five sermons. This message deals with child-like faith. Children believe that God is real, powerful, and present. Am I that smart?
Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
We are beginning a new series this morning. The sermon and series are based on the show "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" Now, let me give you some background. In the show they ask adults questions that they would have learned in fifth grade or before. Some examples:
1. In what month do we observe Columbus Day? October
2. A heptagon is a shape with how many sides? Seven
3. In what state is Mount Rushmore located? South Dakota
4. How many teaspoons are in 5 tablespoons? (3 teaspoons in a tablespoon)
As the contestants end up losing, which they all do, they are asked to look at the camera and state emphatically, “My name is ____________ and I am NOT smarter than a fifth grader.”
Well, I was watching that show and it struck me how appropriate it would be for a sermon series, because, as I look through the Bible, I see so many areas where people should know better, they should have learned by that point in their life, and yet they continue to stumble, continue to fail, continue to get it wrong. And the thought that kept coming back to me is, I’m no better than that. I do the same things.
And so we are going to look at five areas over the next five weeks. Next Sunday we will talk about, “Are you smarter than a Disciple? (they continually struggled to get what Jesus was trying to do – are we any better). Following that we will address, “Are you smarter than a Rich Fool?” (talk about falling into the traps of short term thinking). Then, “Are you smarter than a Pharisee?” (looking at pride and legalism). We will wrap up with “Are you smarter than a Sheep?” (In that sermon we will see how sheep listen and respond to the masters commands – we don’t always do that.)
That’s what is coming up. But this morning we are taking the topic, “Are you smarter than a Fifth Grader?” and we are looking at the concept of childlike faith.
It was a faith that Jesus called us to, a faith that he elevated, a faith that most of us once had, but at some point people tend to grow out of that child like faith, and that’s not a good thing.
And most of us are definitely not smarter than a fifth grader when it comes to our understanding, our belief and our trust, in our heavenly father.
If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn to Mark 10:13-16
ILLUS - Even though I didn’t grow up in the church, one of my early, fond memories, is of reading Bible story books that could often be found in doctor and dentist offices. They were the hardback, blue, full sized books that had lots of wonderful pictures in them. I was fascinated by these books. There was Daniel in the Lions Den, Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath, and so many more great stories.
And when I was little it seemed easy to believe and be inspired by those stories. Why has that changed? Why, as we grow older, do we become more cynical? Why does our faith become more difficult?
Is it because when we’re small we are more gullible? Or… is it because we have not been cluttered with decades of influence and false teachings and the harshness of life?
And the question becomes, how did we lose our childhood faith and optimism in God? And can we reclaim that?
Our text in Mark 10:13-16 says, People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." 16And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
Jesus was teaching his disciples that it was people who have faith like a child that are going to inherit the kingdom of God! He held up a child and he basically said, “Learn from this child.”
Now there are many things that children teach us.
ILLUS - I remember receiving an email that talked about things I’ve learned from my children. It said, “My children have taught me many things”:
My children taught me that If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound boy wearing underwear and a Superman cape.
My children taught me that when using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit.