"Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." Luke 18:16-17 (ESV)
CBS is the home for the reality show Kid Nation, a social experiment in which 40 children from 7 to 14 are dropped off in a deserted town to build it and run it themselves without adult supervision. I have been amazed at how well the children have been managing and dealing with their life as they make it.
On one episode the children had to deal with the social concern of religion. Prior weeks the town had to deal with curfews and government. They divided the town into 4 districts. Each has an elected leader and representative on town council.
They compete for social standing in the community by winning challenges. The first team to finish a challenge is the upper class, second place are the merchant class, third kitchen staff, and fourth laborers. Every three days there is a new challenge to see who will be serving in each class, and who is going to do the assigned chores.
Every third day there is a community meeting. One person from the community is picked to win a gold star worth $20,000. Truly, a prize worth its weight in gold. The council must decide who is to receive this reward for their hard work and leadership.
The young people governing this group to date has been refreshing, they have shown moments of greatness and, of course, there were moments when they are kids. Many of them would make any mother proud. Some of them perhaps bring a bit of embarrassment to their family but for the most part I have been moved with the performance of these fine young people.
Each council member must read the "BOOK OF ELDERS" in which suggestions are made on how to make the settlement better than the former inhabitants had. The advice in the book does not have to be heeded, but it appears to date the young council members have found valuable wisdom in the pages of the old book.
When it came down to religion, strong feelings where displayed on all sides of the issue. When the council tried to organize a formal religious service no one wanted to attend. An impromptu prayer circle did materialize later in the evening which was well attended and very moving. Once again, the young people demonstrated good judgment. I am curious to see how this religious issue plays out during the remainder of the time spent in this desert town.
It was obvious from the resistance, that legislating religion is going to be met with much objection. Trying to compel people to believe or worship is not going to work in any society of diverse people. Each group expressed their apprehension with regard to having a service from a different viewpoint than the one that they espoused. They all clearly indicated no interest in learning about other people's beliefs for they were content in their own belief system and seemed to be put off by the thought of being forced to worship together with people who did not hold the same faith values as their own.
When one of their own approached them and just gave an invitation to come pray together, the opposition was gone and the invitation was better received. How dramatically things changed when people were provided a choice to worship or not. They were granted the choice to come or stay away. They were not promised anything just given an invitation. The person who gave the invitation did not force anyone only offered it up.
Whosoever will may come, is the offer Jesus made when He walked the earth. He did not force His way on anyone, He simply went about offering to all to come. He knew that an encounter with God would change a person and all He had to do was introduce the Father to others and grant them the option to COME.
Many came, many did not, but for those who decided to eventually take part in that first impromptu prayer meeting in Bonanza City, they truly had a meaningful experience. I too, though only watching at home, was moved by the sincerity of the young people who chose to come.
Jesus had many who followed and many more who resisted. Those who decided to come follow Jesus had a meaningful encounter with God that changed their lives forever. They became ambassadors for God who went throughout the earth giving out invitations to others to COME FOLLOW.
Now I am not sure if the prayer circle at Bonanza City continues or what effect it had on those who participated but the pattern set forth by a legislated body to force people to be religious was an obvious failure. You cannot legislate religion, nor can you keep it from happening through any act of legislation. If the Bonanza town council would have prohibited religion, I am sure someone would still have gone around giving out invitations to COME.
Many down through the ages have tried to legislate religion in one way or another, and yet it still continues even unto today. The invitation to come still goes out to the ends of the earth.
The Bible or ancient text holds many words of wisdom from others who have gone before us. They write concerning things that happened in their societies and how they handled or mishandled things. They shared with the remainder of us their triumphs and failures, advances and declines. They put forth for all to read, a record of their time spent here on earth.
Just like the young pioneers of Bonanza City these ancient texts do not have to be heeded.. If you choose to take the recommendation of those who have gone before, and I might add failed, perhaps you can avoid some of the pitfalls they had to face. If we heed the wisdom of elders who made some of the mistakes we are bound to make ourselves, just maybe, we can avoid some of those same hazards in life.
Perhaps it is for this reason Jesus said that unless we receive the kingdom of God as little children we will in not inherit it. It would appear these young people valued the words found in the “OLD BOOK” and heeded the wisdom found in the pages. Could it be because they knew they did not know everything and needed advice that they heeded it? Perhaps we could learn a lesson from these kids as to how to be led by God?
No one is going to force you to follow not even God Himself, but I am going to present you the opportunity to come follow.
Whosoever will may come! Will you?
Kid Nation CBS Wednesdays. Check it out you maybe very pleasantly surprised.