Summary: Christ commanded us to be childlike, Paul rebuked beleivers for being childish what’s the difference?
Can you remember being a kid? Can you remember the thrill of each new morning and the wonder of each new day? Can you remember when a week seemed like an eternity, and it was a lifetime between Christmases? Can you remember nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and thinking that all stories had a happy ending and the world was full of handsome princes and beautiful princesses? Can you remember when your father seemed like the smartest man in the world and your mother the most beautiful woman? If you close your eyes and let your mind drift back what memories come to you from your childhood. I can remember riding my bike with David Fader when I was ten, and playing softball with Rob Courtier when I was eleven. I remember my dad taking me out into the surf off of Barcelona when I was seven. And having my mother all to myself when I was five. I remember wanting to grow up tomorrow and never wanting to grow up at all. Can you remember being a kid?
If we share nothing else in this life we have shared childhood. Before culture bends us and shapes us and pushes us into our particular mould we are children. Rich, poor, black, white, in Canada or Australia or Russia or Iraq children are children are children it is our one common and shared experience. We may end up in different places but we all started at a common place and that was birth.
Indeed it was such a natural starting point that when Jesus was looking for an analogy with which to explain the new life of the Christian to Nicodemus in John chapter three he latched onto that common shared experience and told that teacher of the law, “you must be born again” . You must start over; begin fresh, experience a new birth. And the Apostle John said in John 1:12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. children of God, not teenagers of God, not adults of God but children of God. The scriptures tell us we must start over, be born again, become as children, but what are children?
Well Lionel Kaufman said “Children are a great comfort in your old age, and they help you reach it faster too.” Someone else stated that “a boy is noise covered in dirt” Kate Wiggins said “Every child born into the world is a new thought of God an ever fresh and radiant possibility.”
One proverb summed it up when it said “There is only one pretty child in the world and ever mother has it.” and in 1675 Lord Rochester wrote “Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children, now I have six children and no theories.” my favourite is “A baby is a small member of the home, that makes love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, the bank balance smaller, the home happier, clothes shabbier the past forgotten and the future worth living for.”
But I know as well as anybody that children aren’t as good as they used to be. I mean they certainly aren’t as polite and well mannered as I was as a child and my parents let me know that my behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated when they were children and I’m sure that my grand parents must have told my parents the same thing. One writer summed it up when he wrote, “Our youth love luxury, they have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for their elders and would rather talk then exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of the households. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, talk in front of company, gobble their food and terrorize their teachers.” Of course that was written twenty three hundred years ago by Socrates.
But whether else we agree on or disagree on we are on common ground on one area is that the natural thing for children to do is to grow up. Most do, some don’t. But they are supposed to. Indeed when Paul chastened the early Christians his complaint was that they were still infants in Christ.
Why was that a complaint? Because for all the good points that children have they also have their faults. A good majority of those faults are excusable in children but intolerable in adults. I’m sure that your children some times exhibit behaviour that you would be disappointed in if they behaved that way as adults. Whether good bad or indifferent there are characteristics in children which are not normal reactions in adults. And there are characteristics in new Christians good, bad and indifferent which are not normal reactions in mature Christians.