For many, Christianity has become the grinding out of general doctrinal laws from collections of biblical facts. But childlike wonder and awe have died. The scenery and poetry and music of the majesty of God have dried up like a forgotten peach at the back of the refrigerator. ~ John Piper
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~ Jesus in Matthew 18:3
Yesterday I carted grandson Jude from my office to our house, as his mom and dad were busy with youth group.
I drive the same route each day, about 5 minutes travel time. I’ve driven it enough that I mentally tune out the surroundings, as my goal is simply to get home.
Yet, on this trip home I learned something of great importance: between the church and my house, three houses still had Christmas lights up in the second week of January.
Without Jude behind me in his car seat, I would have never realized that.
But, once he called out “Christmas lights!” and started counting, I found myself looking for them too.
Simply being in the presence of a child helped me start thinking like a child!
Jesus made a bold statement about what it took to be able to gain access into God’s kingdom. He said a person must change and become like a child.
But what does that mean?
I think at the core of Jesus’ teaching is the fact that kids have a natural inclination to trust. (Sometimes that innocent willingness to trust can scare us as parents!)
Without trust in God, no one gains a relationship with Him. Over and over the Bible declares that the only way know God is by exercising faith in Him. In fact Hebrews 11:6 declares:
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek. (ESV)
Sadly, as we become adults, we become less trusting. In the place of trust we put things like fear and cynicism.
Another aspect of child-likeness is an attitude of dependence.
Kids understand that they need mom and dad to take care of them. How often has a child run away, only to return home by nightfall because of a growling stomach?
But as we age, we tend to revel in our independence. We long for a time in our life when no one will tell us what to do. In fact, the last thing we want to be is dependent!
The Bible tells in Matthew chapter 6 that if we seek first God’s kingdom, everything else will fall into proper order. But our independence often has us doing things our own way, under our own power…and then (maybe) asking God to bless our puny efforts.
Simply put, not very childlike!
Another aspect of child-likeness is curiosity. Kids naturally want to know more about the world around them. So they look under rocks, poke their fingers in places (some not too safe) and ask a lot of questions.
We might say that kids have their antennae up, always soaking in whatever information they can find.
Curiosity serves the follower of Jesus well, because there is so much to learn about Jesus!
Much to our detriment , the adult years can become mundane because we begin to think we’ve seen it all. “Been there, done that” keeps us from pursuing new adventures and experiencing new discoveries.
Finally, children can amaze us with their sincerity.
All though we are all sinners, by both nature and practice, most kids haven’t been beat down by the world.
This lack of scars, whether physical, relational or emotional keeps their hearts buoyant and their minds hopeful.
When the Bible uses the word sincere, it literally means “without wax.”
See, in the times of the Bible, some merchants would try to sell broken pottery by waxing the pieces together. (All it took was a good heat wave to reveal their deception.)
It’s amazing to me how a child can hear the message of the Gospel and accept it freely, whereas an adult will weigh the good news against all the idols that exist in their life, and up wrestling with the decision of trusting God for salvation.
That’s because a child’s heart is typically sincere.
With all this in mind, David’s words in Psalm 131 take on fresh meaning:
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.
David was saying that, in his life, he was operating from the mindset of a child.
Not like a baby who screams for milk, or an adult who worries about paying for the milk.
Just a child who trusts God will supply the milk.
Sometimes it’s good to spend some time around kids to be reminded what types of attitudes help us draw closer to the kingdom.