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Childlike Faith

By: Jenny White

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ ”

Matthew 18:1-3

It’s the year 2008. Camp rock has just been released, and you’re sporting a low pony, bermuda shorts, and purple crocs with silly bands up your arm. A lot of people will call this the most embarrassing period of their life, but for me: I was thriving. I didn’t give a second-thought about what people thought about me. I loved my family. I loved God. And I loved Webkinz. I was crazy weird, I laughed uncontrollably, and I thought braces were cool. I embraced who God made me to be, and I was confident in her.

As life got harder, it was easy to lose sight of that young girl. Self-sufficiency replaced my dependence, perfection swept my creativity, and doubt filled my faith. In Matthew 18, Jesus knows that his disciples will face hard times that will test their faith, so he tells them: in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, you must become like children. Becoming like a child means having childlike faith. It means you believe with your whole heart; you love like you’ve never been hurt; and you wear your crocs proudly. But most of all, it means you love like you’re made of it—because God, who is love, is within you. (1 John 4:16).

This past summer, I thought I almost lost my grandpa. That day I realized he may not be on this side of heaven for very much longer. All I wanted to do was squeeze as much love out of me as I possibly could in the days he was here. I imagine that’s how Jesus wants us to feel about everybody all the time. Children have this down pat. One minute they are fighting over a toy and the next they are playing their hearts out with their former foe. They do not have time to count wrongs because they are too busy forgiving freely like Jesus would.

When the Pharisees came to Jesus, they often over complicated their faith by forming elaborate answers to simple questions and even trying to stump Jesus. But as Cory Asbury puts it “[God’s] love isn’t crafty or slick. It’s not cunning or shrewd. In fact, all things considered, it’s quite childlike, and might I even suggest, sometimes downright ridiculous.” If God was about rules and complex theology he would have told the disciples to become like the Pharisees. Instead, he tells the disciples to become like little children. I too am guilty of overthinking like the Pharisees and walking by sight instead of faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). I get myself worked up trying to figure out the future and worrying how my actions now will dictate where I’ll be later. But the Bible says do not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34), but “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Having a child’s mind is being able to trust an unknown future with a known God.

I am the vine; you are the branches.

We are children of God, and like a child is dependent on his or her parents, we are fully dependent on God. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) That girl that I mentioned in the beginning—I strive to be more like her every day. Loving, forgiving, believing, and trusting with a pure spirit. But I also know that it wasn’t my age that shielded me away from my worries, fears, and insecurities. It was my faith in knowing that God would always be there holding me in his arms; telling me stories through parables about life, love, and friendship; and answering when I cry out ‘Abba’—Father.

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