“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” - Luke 18:17
Usually, any reference to being a child or acting like one is not a great compliment. It’s not often one’s goal to be thought of as a child or have childish behavior. In fact, our education, jobs, and social upbringing all happen with the purpose of creating adults who will contribute to and better society. And that’s what we want, isn’t it? A society in which informed and experienced people lead the way to create a better tomorrow? But is that what we’ve got?
One could make the argument that adults are the ones who have it all wrong. Take stock and see what we’ve got, at least here in America. A world of adults who continue to seek improvement in their lives by chasing after the next biggest and greatest. A world full of grown up people who are out to get theirs and promote the idea of “self.” A world full of “old” people more focused on themselves and getting what is “owed” to them. Sure, there are a few good ones out there; a few who tend to put others before themselves more often than not. I wish I could say that all of these people were found in the Church, but that’s not the case as often as it should be. And this is where being a child comes in…
BEING A CHILD
If you were to ask the populace to describe what being a child looks like, you would most likely get a vast array of answers. Annoying. Needy. Loud. Attention seeking. Always wants to get their way. Dependent on others. Whiny.
And while all of that may be true in describing children in an overarching way, I would posit that you can make the same generalizations of many adults. But there are qualities about children that I think people have forgotten that are typically quite difficult to find in the average adult.
As I was thinking about this…the character qualities of children…I had to make myself really think about the positive characteristics that often get overlooked. While children may have all the attributes listed above, I also think the following are present:
Trusting. Joyful. Creative. Loving. Honest. Curious.
RECEIVE THE KINGDOM AS A CHILD WOULD
It’s these qualities I think Jesus had in mind when He said that whoever does not receive the kingdom of God in the way a child would, would have no part in it. Jesus knew all the positive character traits that children have…He gave those traits to them! Children possess such a purity when it comes to their approach to life. And we’ve all seen it.
We’ve seen the trust that a child has in her parents. They don’t question the intentions of the parents…they simply trust. We’ve seen the way that a child has pure joy over the simplest things. The curiosity of children is often unmatched as they figure out how to do things and continue to learn more about being a part of this world. We’ve seen or heard the honesty of children, as brutal as it may be (“That dress makes your butt big,” “This food is disgusting,” or “You have whiskers like dad does, Mom.”) And we’ve seen the devotion and love that a child can express with their favorite toy or stuffed animal.
What if we, the “adults,” starting acting more like children? What if our approach to faith and service and our Lord was done in the same excitement and pureness of a child? What if we trusted Jesus like a child trusts their parents? What if we were as loving toward others as a child is with their toy? What if we were as determined to share Jesus with people as a child is in getting their way?
Imagine, for a moment, a world full of people acting like children in the purity and honesty and loving way that God created them.
I, for one, need to start acting more like a child.