Author Archives: Tate Madzima

The Difference is …

To say that words hold significant meaning might be an obvious understatement. Just reading the sentence to myself causes me to roll my eyes and ask, “What were you thinking?” But that is precisely the way I want to start answering the questions I posed at the end of June. If it were not for the significance in the definition and meaning of words, I would not have asked those questions. In fact to trace back further down the rabbit trail this entire blog would not exist. After all it is modeled on the idea that the words that we say (or write) matter, and we must choose careful how we use those words. The words in question are childlike and childish. It is important that we exhort one and avoid the other.

In Mark 10:15 Jesus tells his disciples that in order to enter the kingdom of God, one must receive with childlike faith. Childlike faith is a faith that is relentless in its adoration of a perfect and loving Father. It requires that we correctly focus our gaze on God and be undivided in worship of Him. Childlike faith is genuine awe in the goodness and graciousness of God. It is simple in construction, uncomplicated by the lures of this world. In much the same way as a child trusts that their parents are looking out for them and providing for their every need, childlike faith takes the focus off what we can do for ourselves and places it squarely on what God has done for us in sending his Son, and continues to do for us by his own volition. Matthew Henry sums it up best when he says,

Little children depend upon their parents’ wisdom and care, are carried in their arms, go where they send them, and take what they provide for them; and thus must we receive the kingdom of God, with a humble resignation of ourselves to Jesus Christ, and an easy dependence upon him, both for strength and righteousness, for tuition, provision, and a portion.[1]

Childlike faith frees us to be joyful children sitting at the foot of the throne of our heavenly Father who gives us every good and perfect gift. Childlike faith frees us to ask questions and learn things anew. That’s the message that Jesus was conveying to his followers, the message that he wanted them to really understand. Childlike faith is what we are to chase.

The word childish is defined in many ways, but the most striking definition, the one I will focus my attention on is “marked by or indicating a lack of maturity”. To be childish is to be self-centered, to think of your own wants and needs, and literally sulk and cry until you get them (or not). Childish believers spend their time stuck sucking down milk and stunting their growth. Borrowing from a sermon by Jeremy Myers, we can learn a little bit more of childishness and its effect on a believer:

“What is childishness? Childishness is childlike behavior gone sour. Childishness is a refusal to grow up. Childishness is when a person of any age acts younger than they are. While it is natural for children to act like children, it is expected that they will grow up and stop acting like children. When they do not, they are being childish. Childishness is when people who should know better throw temper tantrums and pout when they don’t get their way. Childishness is when people are irresponsible and behave as if the world revolves around them. Childishness is when people make petty demands and selfish complaints.[2]

Paul’s admonition is to move from being a child, to grow up, as is the natural order of things, to move onto solid food, food designed for those that are maturing. Just as growth applies to nature, it applies also to spirituality. And we must live in light of this reality. We must pursue maturity, not just cross our fingers and hope that one day we will be strong enough to move from milk to filet mignon. We must guard against self-centeredness, which entrenches us in childishness and instead strive for gospel-centeredness. In the gospel we get the clearest picture of God and His selfless love for His creation; The sending of His prized possession, His only begotten son. There was nothing childish about Jesus’ unwavering obedience to the Father; there was nothing immature in His willingness to lay down His life for the joy set before Him. But all these actions exuded the characteristics of childlikeness. Jesus fully and completely trusted the Father, and he knew that even though the cross meant pain and suffering, it also ultimately meant joy.

So the difference is not the same, the words may look similar but what they convey is not. Understanding how both words function transforms our relationship with the Lord. It is choosing the difference between death and life. Which one will you be drawn to?



What’s the difference?

It is always a joy to watch a 3 year old try define a complex emotion with their limited vocabulary. It’s not like it’s the child’s fault, it is after all, merely all the child has to work with. Inadequate as their expressions may be, that’s the extent of their command of the language. But one day, those incoherent utterances will turn into the fine tuned rhetoric and musings of an adult; an adult fully capable of articulating and spewing forth idiosyncratic jargon with great poise and abandon. This is just one facet of growth and maturity, an expectation that we hold forth for all people. The movement from childish to maturity, is not only expected, it’s necessary. There’s nothing endearing about a 50 year old man that still throws a tantrum and rolls around on the ground when he doesn’t get what he wants.

Mark 10:13 – 16 “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me;  do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.(emphasis added)” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

1 Corithians 13:11 “ When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

Two words that cause great confusion, childish and childlike. Although they seem similar, they are miles apart in their definitions and therefore their implications to us. But what is the difference? And does that difference really have that much bearing on life as we know it? That’s the question I want to pose at this juncture. I want to leave it unanswered this week to give you, the reader, an opportunity to determine whether you ask yourself this question often, if at all.

What is the difference between these words?

What are the implications of that on my walk and my life?

How do I uphold one and avoid the other?

Help Needed?

This past weekend while I was watching an international soccer game a commercial came on at the half that really intrigued me. It was for a Christian dating website and what really struck me was the last thing the narrator said. He boldly declared to the viewing audience, “Sometimes we wait for God to make the next move, when God is saying the next move is yours.” First I laughed, and then I sat back and thought about that statement for a bit. Is it true, are lots of “singles” running around because they just aren’t proactive enough, or because they haven’t heard the voice of God?

Let me start this by coming clean and stating that I am one of those “Christian singles” that this website is geared toward. As a single in Christian circles, pressure for marriage comes from all directions, and with this pressure comes varying degrees of advice – some great, some not so much. So in writing this I’m not trying to offer advice on the issue of dating and Christianity. There are many great books written by authors much wiser than I out there that give advice and weigh the merits of dating and relationships in our context. I just want to offer my observations as a 26-year-old single, the target demographic of the commercial.

The statement that God is waiting for my move can’t solely apply to marriage. It also permeates every facet of a believer’s walk. If God’s waiting on me to make a move for a wife, then why not for a job, or a relocation? In thinking about this statement I’ve constantly circled back to the words of Christ in John 15:7 – 8. “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” So often we confuse our rugged individualism, independence and gumption with spirituality. We subscribe to the notion that God helps those who help themselves, hanging onto those very words as though they were a profound biblical truth. God is not a passive observer of our lives, He does not sit in heaven popcorn in hand, anxiously waiting to see whether we will turn to the right or to the left. There are no what ifs with God. He is the author of time; meaning He is in the past, He is in the future and He is in the now, simultaneously. The days of our lives were mapped out far before we were even a thought in the minds of our parents. Seeing God as a co-author with us to our lives strips God of his omnis – omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence – and elevates us into the realm of the controller of the universe. That’s where my problem with the statement lies, that in the context which it is given it very much asserts a fallacy, that we are on par with God.

As we further meditate on the words of Christ in John 15, and couple with that the words of James 4:3, “You ask and you do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions,” one realization has to be made, that for what we ask to be granted, it has to be aligned completely with the will of God over our lives. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us the heart is deceitful, and the only way to counter the deceit of the heart is to abide in the love of Him whose heart is pure and undefiled. When our desires flow seamless from the heart of the One we are bound to in love, then those desires are granted and they glorify our Maker.

God is always making the moves. He moved to create the world, perfect and spotless. He knew that sin would enter the world even before He created it and moved to set in motion a redemption story. He moved to send His Son to die on the cross to reconcile us to Himself. He moved to give us, believers in Christ, the faith to believe by the grace afforded us by the cross. God doesn’t stop moving. He moves us to delight in Him, obey Him and seek Him. God always initiates, we are the responders. The responsibility of man is our response to the evidences of God. So even in the realm of dating, God initiates by laying that attraction on our hearts and then He invites us in to take part in the glorious gift of pursuit and marriage. We are unable to snatch control from His hands. We can’t blind side Him, He authored our story, our life.

I didn’t really answer the question, “Is it my move next?” mainly because there’s a deeper issue. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” Matthew 6:33. Wife, job, kids, house, health, the list is endless. God moves us to Himself, He awakens desires in us as we draw nearer to Him. God is always faithful, always compassionate. He’ll make the moves, and He’ll compel us to respond.

Further Reflection:

“Grow Up and Get Married” – Geoff Ashley 

“I will wait for you” spoken word video

Christian Pick up lines – Stuff Christians Like

What not to say to Single Women” – Kevin DeYoung

Dude, Where’s your Bride?” – Kevin DeYoung

The Hardest Thing

That line has been stuck in my head for the past couple of weeks now. It stems from the selfishness of the heart, and how often there is a misunderstanding of the Gospel. In talking to an eclectic collection of people, some friends, others strangers, one theme has been constant; a question on how it is possible for God to love and forgive us after all we’ve done. Inevitably every conversation I have been part of recently that begged this question winds up, wrongly I might add, at the same conclusion. “God can’t forgive me, what I’ve done is too horrible and I’m too far gone” or “God will never forgive me, I’ve chosen so many other things over him, he’s tired of my apologies”.

The answer to this misconception and misunderstanding of the Gospel is that God already did the hardest thing. The costliest, most loving thing he could have done for you, for me, he has already accomplished. That’s the root of the gospel. On that fateful night,in the garden, Jesus prayed. He cried out to the Father, fully knowing and understanding the Father’s will for his life, because that will was put in place before anything was. He cried out to the Father knowing full well that what he was about to endure was unimaginably painful, and undeserved. He cried out with sweat dripping like drops of blood because the culmination of what he had come to earth to do was close, and in that moment the enormity of the suffering and pain he was to endure he could not do on his own strength (Luke 22:39 – 46).

The Father loves the Son, and the Father loves his creation. Sin entered and fractured our relationship with the God. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us – Romans 5:8“. That’s the hardest thing, that in my transgression and iniquity, in the middle of my pride and idolatry, God sent his son, with whom he was well pleased to die a death so gruesome and undeserved. The hardest thing that though Jesus was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but gave up his stature, his comfort and his life to give me life (Philippians 2:6 – 10). The hardest thing is wrapped up in that demonstration of love and grace on the cross, a love that defeated sin by paying for it in full, love that defeated death through the resurrection of Christ, that’s the love that we boast off. Thats the grace that we live our lives under, and thats where the power of forgiveness lies.

So no, the hardest thing is not for God to forgive your sinful, wicked heart in your current failings. He already did that, while you and I were sinners (Romans 5:8). A belief in the contrary is contrary to what we believe. His love was poured on us by Him sending His son. Our right standing with God is based on someone’s good behavior. Good thing is that behavior isn’t yours or mine but His Son’s.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16