About a month ago, my dear boyfriend, Chris, came to visit and we went to the new church I’ve been attending in downtown Staunton. That week, I was scheduled to help in the nursery, so I dragged Chris along with me. An hour and a half later, we had successfully kept all seven, precious toddlers from destroying each other during the morning playtime (with the help of another great mom). Lesson learned: three-year-olds can’t quite reason with you and the assumed innocence that miniature plaid button ups and beautiful little eyes portray don’t fool me no more.
Jesus isn’t fooled either.
Picture this: the group of kids from above comes to Jesus. Some are rough-housing with each other, a few have snot dripping from their nose, and others just don’t know where not to stick there hands. Why would you not push away these little guys away from your dignified teacher? Why would he, Jesus, want anything to do with kids who may have not been able to even read, much less even know who he was?
We see that instead of pushing them away, He tells his followers to let them come. He picks them up. He holds them. He explains that wisdom of God has been “hidden from the wise and learned, and revealed…to little children” (Matthew 11:25).
God the Father values the humility of children, and even tells his disciples to “change and become like little children [to] enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). This isn’t to say He expects a gullible mind (though a good chunk of them are and oh the fun you can have!), but a trusting heart. At church when we announce snack time for the toddlers, they don’t worry whether or not they get their share of animal crackers. Each one instead expresses excitement in his/her own way. Not always patiently, but never doubting.
Jesus loves that children have the ability to trust what he says, however, he understands that they’re messy, require a lot of work, and don’t listen all the time. Big surprise right? Yet he still desires them to be the people to enter into his Father’s kingdom. Kids are stubborn, yet teachable. Needy, yet ready to accept their need for help in even the smallest tasks. Who else would be a better candidate?
Why then do we feel guilt or shame when we fall short of the things Jesus asks us to do?
He doesn’t expect us to be mature from day one of saying we follow him. In his eyes, we ARE children, both for the good and for the ugly. He anticipates the need for growth, but only expects us to be teachable.
In choosing to follow Jesus, you’re not signing up to be spanked after every act of disobedience and fear displeasing him the next time. You are given the freedom to take joy in being a child of a divinely gracious Father. His desire is to see you trust his promises, learn from failures, and to look forward to spending eternity with Him in His Kingdom.
Do you view your failures as traps of guilt? How does living in the context of a child of God changes your perspective on personal growth?