Become As Little Children

We have a great program at the congregation where I attend worship that caters to our youth and allows them to learn of God’s loving kindness through age-appropriate lessons.  The program is called Sonshine Parkway, and the children of the church absolutely love it.  Their classrooms are decorated with different themes to resemble things like a café, a library, and even a movie theater.  Needless to say, the children are excited to learn about God, and their parents know that their young ones are receiving fun, godly instruction while attending worship.

Recently, my 10-year-old daughter Emma was asked to be a tour guide for this program, leading kids to their designated classrooms and assisting with the instruction and activities for the day.  She was thrilled to be asked to fill such a responsible role and has taken the time to do her very best in honor of God.  What excites me as a parent and makes me more than a little proud, is her zeal for the opportunity to serve.  While it’s sometimes difficult to get adults to want to participate in church activities and service because of how busy everyone is, here’s a young person willing to step up and to do so with a positive attitude and a heart of love.

I think this is how Jesus felt when the little children were brought to him for prayer and the laying on of hands.  As soon as the parents brought their children before Jesus, they were rebuked by the disciples.  Now, why on earth would the disciples have a problem with some harmless children coming before their Rabbi?  Maybe it was just crowd control or maybe they had somewhere else to travel.  Most likely, they believed that Jesus shouldn’t be bothered by such trivial things like dealing with children.  Whatever the reason, Jesus’ response was quite interesting.

“Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

(Luke 18:16-17)

We gain a little insight here as to the kind of heart Jesus is looking for to inherit his kingdom.  What I hear him saying is, “Regain your innocence.  Rejoice in me.  Quit worrying about all the trivial arguments in life and just come and be in my presence.”  You see, somewhere between giving our life to Christ and dealing with our own problems in life, we forget what it was like to first hear about God.  We get sucked back into the “I must think this, and I must do that” mentality.  We lose our wonder for the beauty of God and our zeal to serve him with all of our heart.  There’s a reason why Jesus says,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.”

(Matthew 22:37-38)

He wants us to become like little children in the presence of their Father.  God wants us to approach him with a trusting, excited, curious, joyful, and carefree heart.

All of this has taught me a lesson as a father as well.  It’s not enough just to raise your child in the church.  It’s not enough to attend worship several times a week and then go back to doing your own thing.  If I want my daughter to remain zealous for God, to love Him with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength, I must model that behavior myself.  I must remember to become like those little children who are mentioned in the Bible and daily desire to sit at the feet of my Father and learn all that he has to teach me.

Have the heart of a child when thinking of and approaching God, because without that attitude and innocence, we’ll never enter the kingdom of God.

-Joe

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7 thoughts on “Become As Little Children

  1. I think you are on to an important point. It made me question whether we should be more direct with people about needing them to serve. I think for myself I feel insecure and don’t think people really want me to give input. I guess I’m saying encouragement is important.
    Thank you for this great post.

    1. Joe Butler

      service is an interesting point in the church because we are dealing with a lot of different personalities. Some people are motivated to serve all on their own while others need a little more encouragement to get the ball rolling. What I think we really must do is teach the expectation of a life of service when teaching the gospel to people. Too many who come into the church today take a passive, serve me stance and don’t really understand what a commitment to Christ is all about. I will not pass judgment since I don’t really know how God would view a person who prefers to sit on the sidelines, but I will do my best to serve in the ways I’ve been gifted and hope that others are inspired by my efforts.

  2. I have been wondering how much a mindset of “play” is involved in having the heart of a child. I seem to have forgotten that as an adult and have turned everything…even what should be play into work and I am just wondering how much that is hindering me from just being with God.

    1. Joe Butler

      Play and the innocence behind it. It’s a shame there is so much “adult” theological discussion in religion today and not the purity that comes from seeking God like a child. I love the traditional picture of Jesus there with children sitting on his lap. It may not have looked exactly like that, but that’s the kind of relationship God wants us to have with him, our Father.

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