“So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:4
I will be honest, this concept of child-like faith used to confuse me. As a teenager I envisioned a naïve child who willingly accepted whatever was placed before her, no questions asked. I would think, “Is this really what God wants from me, a robot-child who can’t use her brain?” Faith like a child must be more than blind acceptance.
Since then I have become an adult and had children of my own. My husband and I are raising five kids, ranging from elementary school through high school. I have had my share of experiencing the whole gamut of child-like behavior. And let me assure you, some of those behaviors are NOT what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 18! But, I have also been amazed at how God has used children, my own and others, to teach me about how I should live out my faith. I have come to understand better what it means to have child-like faith. I could give a whole list of how we can learn for kids. So, for now I will give you two: 1) Ask Questions, and 2) Worship Freely.
Recently on a Sunday morning I was teaching about the salvation we receive through Jesus’ death on the cross (a concept pretty deep for young minds). One seven-year old very insightfully asked me how the forgiveness from Jesus, since he was alive so long ago, could carry forward and still be good for people alive now, shouldn’t He have to come and die again? Well, as you might imagine, I had to pause for a moment to consider how to bring a complicated theological answer down to a few simple sentences. On other occasions I hear queries about where dinosaurs come from, was God created, or how many animals fit on Noah’s ark. The questions range from serious to silly, from complex to simple, from confused to curiosity.
When did you last ask God a question? And I don’t mean asking God for a raise or to help you pass a hard test. But when did you last dig into His word or in prayer so deeply that you truly sought to understand God better? We tend to lose our innocent curiosity as we grow up. We fall into routine and forget that there is great wonder and mystery in our Lord. Do you allow yourself to be curious about God and faith? Children live in the land of curiosity, wanting to gain knowledge and understanding of the world around them. Find that longing again. Our eternal God has no beginning and no end, so we will never run out of questions, and our God is big enough to handle our questions and doubts.
I hear this phrase on a regular basis, “I wish I could bottle up all the energy those kids have!” It’s true, children have an abundant amount of energy. We see them jumping around, running circles on the grass, using their “outside voices” indoors, climbing trees, and swimming for hours. What a gift of energy they have! I don’t want to bottle up that energy, I want to learn how to replicate it in myself. But not just for the sake of climbing trees and playing games (of course those are amazing). I want to learn how to capture that energy and use it worship God. Kids are so great at their ability to ignore social norms and throw caution to the wind instead of being embarrassed or self-conscious. We see that displayed in the way they worship by dancing, jumping, clapping, twirling, and singing with their “outside voices”. They engage with God without concern of who might be watching, without concern of being off-key, without concern of looking foolish. They express their worship to God freely. We can learn something from the way kids worship. We can approach our God in confidence, shrugging off the opinion of others, and worshiping an audience of One.
Embrace Your Inner-Child
Stop worrying about being a grown-up all the time. Slow down and revive the curious, free-willed child inside. Embrace the freedom of giving yourself fully to worship. It’s not about remaining naïve in our faith, it’s about recognizing the enormity of God and never feeling like you know enough of who He is.