Jesus called a little one to his side and said to them, “Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in.” Matthew 18:2-3
Don’t grow up, allow your faith to become sophisticated, and begin to grumble when things don’t go your way, or you encounter problems with other Christians. Keep your faith pure, simple, and like a child. Don’t grow up!
My granddaughter, Lila, has abounding enthusiasm. Non-stop energy and a creative mind, both in a four-year-old, means that Lila must be corrected or asked to stop what she is doing. This week her father told Lila that she couldn’t do something and when she asked why, he said, “Because I’m the boss!”
Lila sat there for a moment and said, “Dad, I’m going to wait till I get bigger and you get smaller, and then I’ll be the boss of you!”
Staying childlike does not mean we should ignore mistakes or not mature.
Children trust easily, and say what they mean. When they don’t understand, they challenge; even pointing out the faults of parents. As we grow older, betrayal and failure create a cynicism that says, “I will never do that again; I will never forgive that person; I’m just getting too old.”
Getting older means that we get to be the boss.
I understand Lila’s thoughts since I tend to boss others. Confession: Perhaps why I became a pastor! I found the more that I controlled or at least tried to control situations, the more stress for me and the more out-of-control for others.
Staying childlike can be the most difficult Kingdom lesson learned. During the past 15 years (I wish it had been longer ago), I developed a three-step “Becoming Childlike Again” process.
First, I ask God to restore fear. No, not becoming fearful, but learning to fear the consequences of actions that tarnish childlike faith. Psalm 33:8 states, “Let all the earth fear the Lord.” On the narrow path, we find freedom; those who lose their fear of wandering become ensnared.
Secondly, I ask God to restore wonder. I want to conclude every day by saying, “God, I had a great day.” If I cannot say this or do not feel like it, I go through the difficulties and hindrances, and confess them before I go to sleep. Then I say, “God, I had a great day.” The scripture about not letting the sun go down on our anger applies not only to marriage, but to all relationships, including the relationship that we have with our Father in heaven (Ephesians 4:26).
Thirdly, I ask God to get me excited about something new. Getting old is boring. A toddler finds endless joy by pulling everything off the shelves in a room – all of it new and all of it interesting. When we no longer find something interesting to pull off a shelf, we are old. When we grumble about our grandchildren messing up the house, we are really old!
Anticipation of serving, traveling, or seeing a friend – in awe, something new, and with reverence of our calling – all combine to increase the child-likeness of your faith!
Please get younger. And never, never, tell your child to grow up!