Faith Like a Child
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. ~Matthew 18:1-5
I know it is the Christmas season and I should have something “Christmasy” to write about. I will get there, but you’ll have to bear with me…because I want to start off by talking about a little girl. Those who come to the 10:00 am service might notice her. Every time she enters the sanctuary I can’t help but watch and smile.
I remember the first time I noticed her entering the sanctuary because she came running in, not like most kids running crazy to the playground, but ran in with an eagerness and joy in her eye. As she entered worship, I looked to see where her mom was, as I did not see her. Sure enough, a few seconds later her mom came following behind. I didn’t say anything, but for some reason it made me smile. The next week the same little girl came running into the sanctuary with the same joy and eagerness in her eye, and a few steps behind her was her mom.
For the next few weeks I found myself looking for her to enter the sanctuary, and one week I finally had to say something to her mother. So, I stopped her and said, “I just want to let you know how much joy it brings me to see your daughter enter worship. I wish everyone entered this space with the same joy and excitement each week that she does.” Her mom responded by saying, “Every week she is so excited to come to church. She can’t get enough of it, whether on Wednesday night or Sunday morning, she just loves being here and learning about God.”
Every time I see this little girl I am reminded of Jesus’ words to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Often times we hear this or read it and think, “This is not me - I am not a child, I am an adult”, or, “I don’t have time to act like a child.” We think this way because we confuse being like a child with being childish. See, there is a huge difference in being like a child and being childish. I know many children as well as adults that are good at being childish. Childish is being selfish, self-centered, and having a feeling of entitlement - things appropriate for children. When we read Jesus’ teachings, we learn that being childish is the furthest thing away from what He teaches.
However, to be like a child means to see everything with joy and excitement. It is as a child on Christmas morning, seeing the spender and magic of what took place the night before. To be like a child means not being cynical or feeling like we have to know it all. Children aren’t born with a sense of fear or hate - it is something they learn. To be a child means to have big dreams, to believe that God can do anything, to not fear judgment, ridicule or even failure.
So, when Jesus tells us to be like a child, He is telling us we should love more than hate, dream more than fear, trust more than be cynical. Being like a child means that when we come to worship, we come in awe and wonder of a God who created the heavens and earth - not to be entertained, out of a sense of obligation or because it is routine.
I had a pastor friend who would randomly ask youth and children, “Do you know what today is?” and without fail, they would say, “Monday” or “Sunday” or whatever day of the week it was. To that, he would say, “No…today is the day that the Lord has made, so we should rejoice and be glad in it.” As Christians, every day is the Lord’s day and we should live every day filled with wonder and joy. We get to live our lives in relationship with the creator of the universe, who was born in a manger and died on a cross, all so we might know Him and love Him.
Let us be more like a child and less childish in our relationship with God and in our relationships with each other. If you need help figuring out what I am talking about, I would encourage you to come early to the 10:00 service and look for the little girl running into worship with a sense of joy and excitement on her face Then you will know.