Like Little Children

 

There used to be a program where Art Linkletter talked to children and got them to say some rather funny things. Perhaps it was on, “House Party” or maybe “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.” Anyway, Art asked a young boy to sing “God Bless America” and the little boy sang like this… “God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her and guide her, through the night with a light from a bulb!

 

*   (Mat 18:1-6 NIV)  At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" {2} He called a little child and had him stand among them. {3} And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. {4} Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. {5} "And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. {6} But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

*    (Mat 19:13-14 NIV)  Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. {14} Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

*    (Mark 9:33-37 NIV)  They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" {34} But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. {35} Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." {36} He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, {37} "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

*    (Mark 10:13-16 NIV)  People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. {14} When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. {15} I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." {16} And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

*    (Luke 10:21 NIV)  At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

But …

 

*    (1 Cor 13:11 NIV)  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

*   (Isa 3:12 RSV)  My people -- children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your leaders mislead you, and confuse the course of your paths.

 

*   (Deu 9:23 NIV)  And when the LORD sent you out from Kadesh Barnea, he said, "Go up and take possession of the land I have given you." But you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. You did not trust him or obey him. (Said of the children of Israel)

*   (Luke 11:43 NIV)  "Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. (Like spoiled children)

 

   There's a story about a little girl who climbed up on the lap of great-grandmother and looked at her white hair and wrinkles and then asked, "Did God make you?" 

   "Yes," she said.

   Then she asked, "Did God make me, too?"

   Grandma said, "Yes."

   "Well," said the little girl, "Don't you think He's doing a better job now than he used to?" (Delightfully Naive)

 

So what is the lesson to be learned? After all some places make it sound like children are tyrants. Some make it sound like we should strive to become mature adults. Others make it sound as if though being childlike is the secret to making it into the kingdom of God. Are these verses contradictory? All of the verses are true and right and good. They are simply looking at different things or aspects of being a child.

 

Indeed, we need to study and mature in our walk with the Lord. That is we must not be content to remain as a child in that respect.

 

Indeed, children are not best equipped to be rulers when complex and subtle issues need to be addressed.

 

Indeed, children do not have the life experience to advise elders on how to address the problems we face on a day-to-day basis. That is why parents are responsible for children and not the other way around.

 

Yet we must understand that what Jesus said about children Jesus meant. So what did he mean?

 

I think the answer is obvious if we consider what admirable aspects children do have. Little children tend to be innocent, naïve, trusting, willing to follow and learn, loving, and forgiving.

 

When I was a little child my father was the smartest and strongest man in the world. I wanted to grow up to be like him. My mother was the prettiest woman and the best cook. To me, she was the standard by which all other women were judged. I wanted to be like my dad when I grew up and I wanted to marry a woman like my mother.

 

Well guess what? It turns out that God, my Father, is the smart and strongest of all fathers. And I do want to be more and more like Him as I grow up! And, I want to exhibit all the attributes of a good little child of God. I want to love Him. Obey Him. Trust Him. I want to follow Him. I want to learn how to be the son that makes Him proud. I want to learn how to love as He loves. I want to learn how to forgive even as He forgives. Let’s always remember this verse.

 

(Gal 4:6 NIV)  Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." Let’s be good little children not spoiled little brats!