Summary: I used the book the 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins to introduce this message on Spiritual Growth and the Kingship of Christ
Read from Book.
Now let’s be honest today; how many people here had actually heard of “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins” let alone read it before this morning? I had actually read this book as a child and apparently it stayed with me because the day that I decided to preach this series it was one of the first books to come to mind.
One of the more obscure books by Dr. Seuss it was written very early in his career, it was actually the second children’s book that Theodor Giesel wrote as Dr. Seuss, the first one being “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” Actually as obscure as “The 500 Hats is” it is probably better known this this one, “The Seven Lady Godivas”
The 500 Hats was published in 1938 and unlike most of Dr. Seuss’ books it was written in prose rather than the rhymes which he later became famous for. Seuss claimed he got the idea when riding on a commuter train and sitting behind a business man who was wearing a hat.
For those who are curious Seuss began drawing cartoons for magazines in the 1920’s and 30’s wrote over 60 books in a career that spanned more than 55 years, the first one was published in 1937 and the last one was published in 1998, seven years after his death.
During the Second World War he worked for the US army producing animated films to be used by the defence department.
So, back to the book. The story of course involves the main protagonists Bartholomew Cubbins a young farm boy in the kingdom of Didd and King Derwin. We read a little bit of it and you can probably figure out the rest, Bartholomew keeps on taking off his hat and a new one takes its place. Bartholomew keeps getting more confused and the king keeps getting more frustrated.
The story takes an interesting twist when starting with the 451st hat they become increasingly more beautiful or ornate, until finally the five hundredth and last hat appears and it is a beautiful bejewelled hat, well let’s pick the story up at that point. (read last two pages)
So what do we learn from the story? Well, it’s so obvious I shouldn’t have to tell you, but I will.
When we first begin our journey as a Christ Follower and meet our King we take off our hat, it is a sign of respect and we recognize our place and His place. But as we mature in our Christian walk, and we are supposed to mature in our Christian walk, just listen to what Paul tells us in Hebrews 6:1-3 So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.
As we mature in our Christian walk a new hat appears to replace the one that we just took off, and we are faced with a dilemma, will we remove that hat as well or will we simply brace our feet and maintain that we’ve already taken off our hat. And that’s what some people do, they never grow up in their Christian faith, they never mature, they never move beyond John 3:3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” They are confident they are a child of God but they have no interest in growing up. But what is cute in a new born in disturbing in a child who is a year old, and at two years old we expect more of them and as a child ages chronologically we expect their behaviour to change and if it doesn’t we become worried and they are referred to as “developmentally challenged”.
In the scripture that was read earlier the author of Hebrews warns of the consequences of not growing in our Christian faith of becoming “developmentally challenged” but he finished with this statement Hebrews 6:9 Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation.
Those better things happen as we are confronted with our behaviours and attitudes, the hats we are wearing. And then we make a decision to either remove the hat or leave it in place.
I’ve mentioned this before and here it is again. A number of years ago back I developed the Guptill principle of spiritual growth, and it's based on the Peter Principle a principle first expounded in 1969 by Canadian-born University of Southern California education professor Laurence J. Peter, in a book of the same name, Peter stated: “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence” Right? So the part time sales man is good at his job and so he is given a full time sales position. And he does an excellent job in sales so he is made a store manager and he excels there and he's made an area manager and he is really terrible at that job, he just can't seem to get the hang of it, and so there he stays. He doesn't get promoted, but because of his seniority they can't fire him. He hates his job, it gives him ulcers and grey hairs but he has a family to support and so he can't really quit and if he asked to be demoted to his previous position he'd lose face, and so there he stays, miserable, unhappy, discontent and stuck.