A few years ago Jessica, my granddaughter, was being a real pest. Finally her mother said, "Please be nice." The childish reply was the essence of helpless sinfulness in the kingdom of Satan:
"But I want to be naughty!" she said, exhibiting the typical unregenerate human dependence on the feelings of the moment.
A few years went by, and Jessica was 5 years old. One morning she and I were in our library reading the Bible story of Jesus' birth. An opportune moment presented itself.
"Jessica," I asked, "have you decided to accept Jesus as your very best friend?" "Well, no." "Would you like to?" "What does it mean?" she asked. "It means you love Jesus. You want Him to be your best friend; and you want Him to save you from sin." "Yes, I'd like that." "OK, let's pray and tell Him your decision." We had a simple little repeat-after-me prayer.
"Jessica, do you know what is happening now?" I asked. "What?" "The angels are jumping and shouting for joy because they are so happy about the decision you have made. And they are bringing out the big book of life. One of them is writing your name, Jessica Carlyn Dill, in that special book." Her smile was radiant to behold. Several times that day she caught my eye and shared again with me that smile.
The next morning Jessica wanted to have our private worship in the library early. She invited a friend, little sister Juliana. Jessica wanted the same story again about Jesus' birth. When we finished reading, she said to me, "Now ask Juliana." "Ask Juliana what?" I was a little confused. "You know. Ask if she has decided for Jesus," prompted Jessica. "But, Jessica, I think she is too little to decide." "Oh, no, she needs to decide now," persisted Jessica.
"Juliana, do you want Jesus to be your very best friend?" "Say yes," instructed her big sister. "Yeth," she lisped. "Now we have to say the prayer," continued Jessica. "You pray, and let Juliana repeat after you," I suggested. No sooner said than done. In half a minute Jesus had been informed that He had another best friend.
"Now, Juliana," said Jessica in her best teacher voice, "do you know what is happening in heaven right now?" "No, what?" she asked with wide blue eyes. Jessica could hardly wait to share. "The angels are jumping up and down and shouting because they are so happy that you are friends with Jesus. And then after they get a little tired of jumping, one of them will get out a big special book." Jessica looked at the bookcase for an illustration and pulled out the prettiest big book she could see. "It is called the book of life. They'll write your name in it really close to mine. Then it will be for sure that we are best friends with Jesus."
At that point their attention turned to practicing the jumping up and down and shouting that is required of angels. But their experience shows us in microcosm what Jesus wants us to understand on a cosmic scale.
Once our choice is made, how logical, how inevitable it is that we would do our best to help others also see the reasonableness of getting on the winning side, taking advantage of all that God offers. In the process, we are fulfilling the gospel commission just by sharing the excitement and benefits we enjoy because Jesus was born in Bethlehem and took forever our human nature. This rewarding experience must go on and on in our lives, growing constantly deeper and wider.
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