“…for such is the kingdom of God.  Assuredly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”  Mark 10:15

“….but when I became a man; I put away childish things”  1 Corinthians 13:11

As we come to that time of year where we celebrate the birth of the Child, it seems fitting to perhaps reflect on what is said and thought about being like a child.

Ah childhood, a period of time in popular culture (sadly not a universal actual happening) that is wistfully looked upon as a time of innocence and blissful joy.  A time where possibilities seem endless and the spirit soars at each new encounter.

Yet then again, rarely do you hear an adult called a brat and to the extent that the terms is used on an adult it congers up pictures of tantrum throwing little kids.  Bullies and bullying was a term, until more recently, relegated to the time frame of childhood and adolescence.  I have heard the phrase: “Gullible as a newborn….”  Sticking one’s tongue out, holding their breath until they turn blue are all characteristics that we tend to associate with the not so wonderful side of childhood.

And as wonderful as we might think the time period of being a child might be; isn’t as adults, with out insight and wisdom, drive and ambition, depth and breadth of our experience; aren’t we the people who really get things done?  So what are we to make of Jesus Christ’s admonition?  Especially when placed alongside Paul’s admonition to the Corinthian’s to put away childish things.

One story that seems to illustrate this to me came from my own experience with my own children.  Driving in the car when they were very young, the sun is shining in their eyes and being restrained in car seats, they could not move to block it.  So the request came very matter-of-factly and with ever confidence that it could be done:  “Please turn off the sun, it is in my eyes!”  (This was the beginning of a long downward slide in my children’s realization of the multitude of things I couldn’t do)  The amazing thing to me at the time, and still today, was how reasonable the request seemed to them.  This was a very natural thing that a loving father could do.  Please, Please don’t get caught up in the absurdity of request in terms of its fulfillment.  Think more in terms of faith and trust involved, the steadfast belief in their father.  Of course I could not fulfill their wish to turn off the sun.  However, what I did do was to pull over and pull down the shade (safety designed for cars) to block the sun from them.  Here again is a key distinction concerning the sufficiency of my response.  I did not turn off the sun, which was the original request, yet they were perfectly content that the sun was still shining but no longer into their eyes. (If only all requests were so easy).

There is another aspect to a child’s perspective that is different from adults.  They can (if taught) more easily learn a respect and even awe for authority.  Think about it, they know or can be easily shown that they are not in control.  They can be physically picked up and relocated whether it was within their will or not.  They are unable (talking young toddlers here) to fend for themselves, to get their own food, provide their own shelter.  There is an innate belief and trust in a child that the adults in their lives are doing what is best for them simply because of the power that the adults have.  It is this inability to fend for themselves as well as their trusting nature that sadly gets manipulated into their abuse at times by evil adults in their world.  So here’s the thing; my children learned that I have limitations.  There were and are many things that I just could not do.  Not only that, some of the things I did, using what I thought was my best judgement, turned out not to be good.  I am imperfect!

Jesus says though we need to receive the kingdom of God as a child, and in fact that if we don’t we won’t enter it.  Children trust.  Adults say trust, but verify.  Children believe until proven wrong.  Adults say prove it to me and then I’ll believe.  If you say come or go to your little child they will often do so; an adult will first ask; what is in it for me.  When faced with a tough situation; a child will ask for and accept help.  An adult will say, and so often we applaud; let me get through this on my own.

What are then to make of Paul’s admonition about putting away childish things?  The Corinthians had taken the Word preached by Paul but then wanted to do things there own way.  They wanted to pout when they were corrected.  It is childish to want everything our way.  If my children had screamed and cried because the sun was still on, though not shining in their eyes; that would have been childish.  If I can’t have my way, I won’t play any more is a childish way to think and must be put away.  The only way to answer my prayer is the way I want it.  And if you won’t do that God; I’ll take my soul home and you can’t have it!  Childish

How can it be safe for us to approach God with the faith, trust, acceptance and awe of a child?  It only works because unlike us, God is perfect.  His love is perfect.  His plan is perfect.  As the Creator of all there is nothing, Nothing beyond his capability.  Did He use that capability to condemn us for our sins against Him?  Are we who believe in Him and Jesus Christ judged to eternal punishment?  He could have.  Maybe as a parent we would have.  No, instead God sent His  Only Son to take our place; to take our punishment.  That is the Love the Father has for us.  I know how desperately I want and need to be his child.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father forgive me when I am a childish adult.  Forgive when I only want my way, when I desire proof before I will trust You, when I tell you thanks but no thanks to the help You most generously wish to provide.  Grant that I might have the proper spirit of a child; trusting in You completely, joyfully basking in the warmth of Your Loving Arms, being wholeheartedly grateful for all that You have, are and will do for me.  Give me the spirit to share my blessings freely with all I encounter.  So, that as children can so sweetly do not worrying about quality or whose listening, we will raise our voices in praise to You.  We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

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