Matthew 18:1-5 (VOICE) Around that same time, the disciples came to Jesus and questioned Him about the kingdom of heaven. A Disciple: In the kingdom of heaven, who is the greatest? 2 Jesus called over a little child. He put His hand on the top of the child’s head. Jesus: 3 This is the truth: unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 In that kingdom, the most humble who are most like this child are the greatest. 5 And whoever welcomes a child, welcomes her in My name, welcomes Me.
The words of Jesus in Matthew 18 are familiar ones. All of us have heard the phrase ‘faith like a child’ in a sermon, Sunday school lesson, or somewhere. But as familiar as these words are, I wonder if we really understand them.
When I think of ‘child-like’ I often instead picture ‘childish’, which is not at all the same thing. To be childish is to be silly or immature, not the kind of qualities that would serve our faith well. No, we aren’t called to be childish.
Sometimes we equate child-like faith with a shallow faith. One that doesn’t quite understand the complexities of the situation and simply ‘goes along for the ride. But, as a father of four boys, I can say – quite certainly – that it isn’t very child-like at all go along for the ride.
We sometimes assume a child-like faith is an unquestioning one. Again, no one that has ever spent any time with a child would believe that. In fact, it is the opposite that is closer to the truth. To have a child-like faith is to be awake to the wonder and awesomeness of the world that surrounds us that the God that created it.
This kind of awareness, accompanied by the beautiful, shameless acknowledgement that there is much we don’t know leads not to silent assent, but instead to a thirst for deeper understanding that directs us to ask ever more questions, leading to ever more wisdom and wonder, deeper and deeper faith.
The final, and most important aspect of this ‘child-like’ faith is what happens when we encounter something that we don’t understand. While my children seemed to go this this stage very, very quickly (with good reason), for most children there is a time when their parent’s knowledge is unlimited and their power to provide and keep us safe is infinite.
While that image of our parents fades into reality for all of us, when it comes to our heavenly father – it isn’t a mirage, but rather the reality of the situation. And so, aware of that reality, we cling to our heavenly father with all our might; trusting him with all we are and placing our faith in the one that is there for us.
Sharing God’s Love,
Prayer: Lord, help us not be childish, but instead fill us with child-like wonder and faith. Trusting you when we don’t understand and aware of your awesome power. Amen.