When It’s Good to Be Childish
Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. Luke 18:17
My father is a pastor, and so, growing up, I knew that he owned – and was the boss of – our local church. This knowledge gave me a swagger and confidence that I would not have otherwise had. The awe and respect I had for my father was along the lines of – My dad can beat up your dad.
Though my faith was a little misguided – as it turns out, my dad didn’t own the church – my posture towards him was appropriate. He was my dad and I looked to him – and my mom – for everything. I was completely dependent on them for food, shelter, clothing, and love. I expected they would provide for me, and I had no doubt in their ability to do so. As a child, I lived in complete dependence and confidence in my parents.
As I grew, I gradually became more and more independent, needing their food, shelter, and clothing less and less. Eventually, I moved out, got married, and had kids of my own.
This is a natural progression for us with our parents, but in today’s passage, Jesus seems to lament the self-reliance of adulthood when it comes to faith. In the story, the masses were bringing their children to be blessed by Jesus. The disciples were annoyed. Don’t bother Jesus with these kids. They need to grow up before they can come to Christ (my paraphrase). Jesus corrected the disciples, insisting that adults must become like children to truly receive the kingdom of God.
Our relationship with God is to be similar to my childhood relationship with my father. We are meant to live in complete dependence on God for everything. We are to rest in the confidence that he is in control, and that he has our eternal interest in mind.
Unfortunately, as we grow, we become self-sufficient. Or at least we think we are. In our apparent success, we go our own way, doing our own thing, and gradually drift away from seeing our need for God. The reality though, is that we always need God. We need him as much as I needed my parents as a child. Jesus said if we want to enter into his kingdom, we must remain aware of this need, continually relying on our heavenly father, just like a child.