Think of one (just one) foolish thing you did as a child. I remember one “project” I attempted as a single-digit-aged kid. I thought it would be “fun” to paint the basement of our house! The problem was I didn’t have enough paint to do all the walls. I didn’t have the right paintbrush to do the job. And I didn’t have the “know-how” to do it right. Needless to say a little paint here and a little paint there was all I managed and it didn’t please my mother at all.
Children make bad choices. Children do foolish things at times. I’ve even seen children be cruel to one another.
So, why does Jesus take the opportunity to teach a central truth about the Kingdom of God by correcting His disciples when they tried to stop the people from bringing their children to Jesus for His blessing?
Jesus insists that we must be childlike to ever embrace His kingdom; His message; His life. Jesus establishes childlikeness as a foundational attitude we MUST develop if we are ever going to be Normal Orthodox.
Look at our lesson today in Luke 18:15-17, 26-30:
At that time, they were bringing infants to Jesus that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” And Peter said, “Lo, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Look at what Jesus says: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Learning to hold onto being childlike is absolutely necessary if we are going to be mature followers of Jesus! But is there a difference between being “child-like” and “childish?” You bet there is!
Look at what St. Paul tells the Corinthians “BRETHREN, when I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)
There is a HUGE difference between being childish and childlike.
Childishness should be abandoned as we mature. The selfish and self-centered tendencies of children to scream “Mine” when someone else is playing with a favorite toy, the undeveloped perspective of the vastness of the human soul, and the unlearned lessons of discipline and patience, all work in a child to fashion a childishness that screams immaturity and a lack of perspective. The all too often tendency of childishness to be self-centered and blind to others is deadly to a mature person. Certainly, a mature believer has outgrown these temptations in their developed faith.
But childlikeness, now there is something to be held on to forever. That ability to simply trust that “daddy will take care of me.” The simple and loving embrace of true affection. The innocence of unfamiliarity with “sophisticated” sins. All these points to the huge difference between childlikeness and childishness.
To be childlike is to the willingly vulnerable and unashamedly so. To be childlike is to run to love. To be childlike is to simply trust. To be childlike is to be willing to truly experience the moment you are in completely with no expectation of the next moment. To be able to be totally focused on what is in front of you and see it for all it is! This childlike superpower is to be valued so I can enter into a loving relationship with god and others!
A wise man once said that if you wanted to know something of the joys of eternity, think of eternity as a child playing with her father and asking over and over again “Do it again, daddy.” The child never tires of the pleasure of that moment.
Today, are you childish or childlike? Your answer to this question will give you a perfect diagnostic look into whether you are, at this moment, embracing God’s kingdom or standing outside this blessed place! If you’re like me, you’ll discover both childlikeness and childishness in your life. So, thank God the Church preserves for us the wisdom of true spiritual disciplines to help us embrace Normal Orthodoxy!
P.S. Dear Lord, thank You for Your gentle wisdom You invite me to embrace. You invite me to remain childlike in my love for You and to become mature when it comes to righteousness and attentiveness. This balancing act is impossible without Your grace and strength and my willingness to be both humble and courageous. Walk with me, Lord, as I learn to tell when I’m being childlike and when I’m being childish! Amen