Matthew 18:1-4 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, asking, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” So Jesus called a child to come and stand in front of them, and said, “I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child.
Today, this scripture pulled me in. Child-like faith is repeated over and over in the bible. When I reflect on this I see my own children. Katie is so enthralled in learning about Jesus right now. At the young age of 8, she sees everything so literally. The last few months we have been talking about confessing our sins. Through Sunday School lessons and repeated lessons at home, she has finally started to realize that there are good choices and bad choices in life. Even up to the day of her First Confession (which I know is a Catholic tradition, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all be teaching our kids about confessing their sins) she was struggling with saying her sins aloud to God.
“Mommy, do I have to tell the priest that I lied to you?”
“Yes, Katie, you do.”
She had this look of horror and said, “Will he make a face when I tell him my sins?”
“No, Katie, he won’t. God loves us even though we make bad choices. He just wants us to say them aloud and that is hard.”
“How do I know it is a sin?” she replied.
“You know that yucky feeling you get when you do something wrong? When you feel that way, it probably means you made a bad choice. It kind of makes us feel like there are thunderstorms in our brain. We just cannot seem to let go of those thunderstorms until we ask God for forgiveness. Confession is like a rainbow appearing through the storms. After we tell God about our sins, He gives us this beautiful rainbow that clears the dark clouds. He does all this for us – because we have said we are sorry. The next step is we have to strive to make better choices. We cannot just go back out and make the same mistakes. Does that make sense?”
“Yes. You promise the priest won’t make a face?” Katie said again.
“Yes.” I said (I sure hope he doesn’t or I am in big trouble).
That conversation reminded me of the child like faith that Jesus wants us to strive for. You see as we become adults, we learn so much about our faith, but we also grow away from God. Our knowledge can lead us in the wrong direction. Trust in God’s plan requires us to be childlike again. It requires us to place all of our trust into God’s hand. Just like a child trusts his/her parents to care for him/her.
At the time of birth until around the age of 4 or 5 (actually even longer), a child relies on his/her parents. Changing diapers, bathing, feeding, and teaching the child to walk are all the parent’s responsibilities. If the child doesn’t have a parent to tend to his/her needs, then the child will ultimately die. That is the same way with our faith. If we don’t allow God to tend to our needs, then our faith will die.
I have always felt that I need God, He doesn’t need me. I can relate this to the child/parent relationship. An infant needs the parent, but the parent doesn’t necessarily need the child. Sure the child brings joy and love to a parent’s life, but the parent will still live even without experiencing child rearing. We need God in order to keep our faith alive. We need God to give us wisdom and guidance. We need God to help us grow spiritually and physically. God doesn’t need us. He loves us, but he doesn’t need us.
I know that sounds harsh, but it is true. God can just find someone else to do His work. He doesn’t need me to do it. BUT I want to do God’s work. I want to help spread His joy and love to others; just like I wanted to raise my kids to be strong, independent and loving. It pleases God when we allow Him to work through us. He is so happy that we are trusting in Him (just like a child trusts his/her parents).
The childlike faith that Matthew talks about in Chapter 18 is significant to all of us who want to live out our faith to the fullest. We must turn away from our independent, strong willed selves and let God take over. We must allow someone else to take care of us in order to feel God’s presence. We must become children once again (even though the main objective all our life has been to be an adult).
“The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child.” That is pretty straightforward if you ask me. It’s funny how as we age, we become once again dependent on others for our care. Kind of makes me think that God is finding a way to make it a little easier for us to become that child before we enter the Kingdom of Heaven.