…”I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.” (Jesus)
Matthew 18:2-7 (The Message)
Boys hate taking baths. Try to wipe clean the face of a boy after an adventurous day chasing zombies out in the backyard and you know what I mean. I once was that boy. Its as if the grime of playing outside all day contains a bit of the imagination from playing. Washing is taking away the magic. This drive to preserve the dream escapes us as we grow older. Responsibility replaces play. So says the school system. So says religion’s rules. Even mom get’s into the act. “Mom, I took a bath yesterday!”
Of course, I am all for bathing. Boys find out that showering is great at about 14 to 15 years of age and end up draining the water heater to the irritation of siblings and parents alike. Once hormones awaken, instinct declares that the opposite sex enjoys a good smelling young man. A bottle of Axe spray–or in my day Brut 33–is applied gratuitously. The girls snickering as you pass are not thinking you as cute as much as it is funny you used too much cologne spray. At least, you are not sure how to decipher the gauntlet of ladies on the way to geometry class.
As a dad, it is a right of passage to make sure your boy is groomed and smelling good. For one, it makes road trips with the family that much more enjoyable. My memories of this time in life is that acne became more of an enemy than the school yard bully. Imagination about robots fade with other more adult-like interests in their place. The girls distract us and enjoy the power they have. Of course, they forget they are captured in the same magnetism, too. All the while, that boy who hates his face being wiped clean is somehow missing in action.
I am not advocating we go back to not bathing, guys. But, do we have to wash off all of the magic? Innocence is a good thing. Hormones fire in our teens and this time is important for kids to feel them and learn to live for more than themselves as they find their true identity. The identities offered them today are dark. Video games allure boys because of the sense of trying on the power to kill, and solve significant scenarios by winning wars or saving the city. Surviving the onslaught of zombies reflects a drive to get past being chased by the darkness all around us in our world.
Zombies are real. The collision of dark depravity on the Internet hits our kids, available on their smart phones and laptops 24/7. You can shelter your kids. But, that would make them so curious that they will burst. The sadness is the loss of that boyhood dreamer in the darkness of the deformed sexual seductress available on screen. Now, girls are subject to this too, of course. They are more and more interested in the dark side online. Innocence fades too quickly. Children do not grow up, though. They become zombies.
Innocence is something God designed for us to feel. Like in the Garden of Eden, we have eaten the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and seen too much on endlessly streamed media. We can never go back there and fix that. Innocence is still possible, however. Legally, it means there is freedom from guilt. What we need more than ever is a life that escapes shame. This is the good news that faith in Jesus brings. Adam and Eve did not quit see the full picture of redemption. Today, we can. All the darkness we are bathed in, can be washed away. The bad magic, gone. A new life begins.
What transpires next is childhood a second time. What can happen for some of us who are on this journey already is a second chance. Innocence, while lost in one sense forever on this side of heaven, is possible. New birth means a second life to live, a new identity to embrace, and a powerful narrative to live. I do not know where you are at today, but consider that time as a little kid when having your face wiped was a chore. Being a Christian is supposed to be just like that.