by Graham Mol
I’m going to classify this blog post as a “Monday Musing” as I got to thinking about the difference between childlike and childish. I love my kids, from the very moment they came into this world they found a permanent and precious place in my heart. No matter what happens I know that I will always love them. Now this doesn’t mean that they are always a delight to me. Let’s just say I never had grey hairs before I had kids. Coincidence? I think not!
Jokes aside, one of things I have noticed is how much joy it brings to me to witness my children’s childlikeness. I love their innocence and wonder at things that seem so mundane to me. I love their uncomplicated laughter as they play. I love the fact that they want to show me their accomplishments, the art they created, the Lego design they built, the thing they discovered.
I’ve also noticed how their childishness frustrates me. When they keep on doing that thing you told them to stop ages ago, and now there’s tears. When they refuse to take responsibility for their actions and try to blame anything and anyone else. The “fat” pouting lips, and whining. The tantrums and… did I mention that I’ve now got some grey hairs?
There is an important distinction that needs to be made between being childlike and childish. This disctinction means that there is no contradiction for God to tell us we should be like children in our faith:
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)
And at the same time tell us that we need to “grow up” spiritually:
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
To be childlike in our faith is to have the sense of innocence and wonder. To always be amazed at what God is doing. To be in awe of what He has done. Ask any child if there is anything their Dad can’t do or if there is any “ouchie” their Mom can’t fix with a hug (and a plaster). Childlike faith is that absolute trust in God’s greatness and goodness. It’s that kind of faith that leads King David to write the words of Psalm 131:
1 My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.
To be childlike in our faith does not mean to be childish. It does not mean sulking when God doesn’t give us what we want when we want. We’re supposed to mature, to grow from a place where it’s all about “me” and “my” needs to a place where we are like Christ in saying “Not my will but yours be done.” Jesus was always and will ever be God’s child, His one and only Son, but He is never childish. May we be like Him for through Him we too are children of God. Let us mature in our faith but never lose that sense of awe and wonder, that uncomplicated joy and that absolute trust in our Heavenly Father.