Thursday, May 2, 2013

Becoming Child-like

The more I have contemplated Jesus' teaching on becoming like a child, the more I am convinced of the Church's need to embrace it more fully.

I know some may disagree.

"Are you saying we need to be immature?"

"Are you saying we should accept things without question?"

"Are you saying we should just have a blind faith?"

Do you really know children?

Perhaps this is a bit strange for my readers to hear, but I do not just parent my children, I study them.  Yes, I study them.  I watch what they do; how they interact with the world; how they act with one another.  Here are some things I think I have learned.

Immaturity: I am not suggesting that we adults should be immature.  Lord knows, there is enough immaturity in society today.  Just a cursory read of the news shows this unequivocally.  There is a time to grow up and take responsibility.  But taking responsibility does not mean leaving behind some very important things that I believe adults need: a sense of humor, a sense of playfulness, a bit of a mischievous streak, a willingness to laugh even at the simplest things.

Children are playful.  They turn all sorts of things into games.  They use their imaginations--at least they do if you are willing to force them to turn off their games and televisions.  They can instantly go from doing schoolwork to playing in a matter of seconds. 

Why is it that we as adults oftentimes have to plan our fun?  Why is it that we have to schedule our down times?  When is the last time you played at work?  When is the last time you enjoyed a belly laugh for no reason?  I don't think such things are immature. 

Accepting without question: I haven't met a child like this.  Nearly every kid I've come across rebels.  Nearly every kid I come across and have given a command has either told me, "No." or "I don't want to." or has said, "O.K." but then gone and done the opposite.  Children don't accept things without question.  Even at an early state they begin forming their own minds and opinions about things.  This is not a bad thing, but it must be tempered with a respect for authority and obedience to the authority's wishes--especially when the authority is acting in a just manner.

In our day and age, all sorts of authorities try to tell us what we should and should not believe.  I am one such authority.  I do try to tell people what to and not to believe.  However, I am willing to argue and offer reasons for my belief, and I am also willing to give you space to accept or reject what I have to say.  You can tell me, "No."  Yet, if you decide to become a Lutheran Christian and member of my congregation, when it comes to matters of theological doctrine, you are also submitting to obedience.  So, if I were to confront you in a particular sin in accordance with Matthew 18, you would have to be obedient and repent.  Yet, you also have the ability to check and make sure I am on the right track.  If I am wrong in my assessment, you can and should question me.  Perhaps I am being unjust. 

Kids question authority.  We should too.  Yet, kids must be obedient.  We must too.

Blind faith: Nearly every kid I know has insatiable curiosity.  They ask questions.  All the time.  And they don't necessarily accept every answer you tell them.  Oftentimes an answer begets another question. 

Is this the sign of blind faith?  Hardly.

How many of us as adults are insatiable in our curiosity?  How many of us continue to ask life's hard questions even after college or grad school?  I'd submit that many of us are quite content to bask in what we have learned and engage in activities that do not stretch our minds.  Kids don't have this problem.  They want to learn.  They engage in learning.  Not always book learning, mind you, but the world is an open book to them, and they want to know about it.  I think as adults we need to do likewise.

I am sure there will be more thoughts on this as time passes, but enough for now.

1 comment:

David said...

Love your comments on blind faith. Perhaps we "mature ones" are the ones with blind faith, not asking questions and pretending to know all the answers. We seem to be blinded by our own self mindedness at times.

Your call to become "childlike" is one the Church as a whole should consider, especially when you put it in such terms. I seem to recall a first century carpenter turned rabbi saying something similar. Hmmmmmmm.