Summary: Christ told us to come as children Paul tells us to grow up, how do we find a balance.
It had started out quite innocently. But then again it usually does. It was just a discussion. They had just been sitting around chewing the fat and somebody had mentioned how important so and so were going to be in heaven. “I don’t think so” said Peter “He hasn’t got what it takes.” Well it was off then. Each of the twelve putting forth his opinion on “Who would be greatest in the Kingdom of God.” Would it people like the Pharisees. People who were so careful to obey all the rules, making sure that all the dos were done, and all the don’t were skipped. Or would it be those like the scribes, those who knew the Holy Scriptures inside out and could quote a chapter and verse for every occasion? “No” said Thomas, “the Sanhedrin they are the ones who know all the theology, they will have the best spot in the kingdom” “Hey guys. What about us, we are the ones who gave up our livelihoods to follow the lord, what about us.” They all turned to look at John, “that’s right” they thought “maybe we’ll get the best spot in the kingdom. “ “I know” James said “let’s ask Jesus, he will know who the lucky person is or better yet how we can be the lucky person.”
So the twelve crowded around Jesus and Peter asked him “Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” And then they waited for his answer with baited breath. By the way baited breath is what a cat has who has just eaten cheese and now waits outside a mouse hole. “Well Jesus who will it be? James or John, Peter or Andrew? Or perhaps it will be Judas Iscariot the one who watches the money.”
But Jesus knelt and called to a little boy playing with pebbles on the side of the road and as he approached the carpenter picked him up. Smiling the child reached out and clasped the finger of the one who exuded so much joy and peace and then Jesus looked back at the twelve and said “you want to know who will be the greatest in the Kingdom? It is the one who is most like this child.”
What? A kid? No he obviously misunderstood them, they want to know who would be the greatest in the kingdom, but then almost as if reading their minds he reinforced it saying “Unless you are willing to humble yourself and become like a child, you’re not going to make it.” Sorry.
So here’s our dilemma today. Jesus told his disciples to become like little children, Paul told the early believers to grow up. Is there a balance that can struck between being childlike and being childish? Last week we looked at some of the negative qualities that we can find in children. Do you remember what they were?
We mentioned that children can be short sighted, they can’t tolerate solid food, they need to be catered to, they can be critical & uncaring and they are selfish. Those are the characteristics that we need to be careful not to exhibit as believers.
But Children also have many redeeming characteristics as well. If not then we would all share the view of Bob Hope who said “Kids are wonderful, but I like mine barbecued.” Or Robert Byrne who stated “Learning to dislike children at an early age saves a lot of expense and aggravation later in life.”
When Jesus told the twelve to become like little children what qualities was he espousing?
1) Children Haven’t Lost Their Sense of Wonder
What is more fun then watching a little kid come into the room on Christmas morning. When Stephen and Deborah were little little we used to put the tree up on Christmas Eve and that way we’d get the full meal deal. They’d come down stairs, around the corner and see the tree, the lights, the decorations and all the gifts. It was like total sensory overload. Their eyes got this big their jaws dropped open. It was great. But it’s not just at Christmas, children marvel at what God has done throughout the year.
The see the magic in rainbows and stars, they laugh at animals playing and marvel at creation. Watch a little kid at the beach, every thing is a discovery and most of their discoveries are fabulous treasures. I love when children see our 140 lb Great Dane when we are walking him at the waterfront.
As adults we have become blasé about this world. Too many times we’ve lost our sense of wonder. Oh it comes back occasionally like when we see a really spectacular sunset or rainbow or the Northern Lights. A new born will sometimes do it or a colt struggling to its feet for the first time. But for the most part we drift through life with a “Been there done that” attitude.