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Jesus taught some pretty serious lessons regarding children in the gospels, lessons about how precious children really are in His sight, and how the angels of children always have His Father’s ear.
One of the most simply stated and most challenging was to have a childlike faith and be like the children.
Matthew 18:3 ESV And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Become like children? Often when we consider Jesus’ command, we think, I don’t want to have a childlike faith. I want a mature faith, a sturdy faith based on wisdom and understanding, consistently walking with the Lord.
But when we think about a childlike faith as immature, we’re missing the point Jesus was making.
One point of this passage became really clear to me over the past few weeks.
I’ve been listening to Pastor Shane Idleman who preaches on fasting often. It’s not my favorite topic. While my father fasted a few times when I was a child, it wasn’t discussed in our perfectly polished suburban churches.
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I have never attended any churches that spoke on it at all, and in my spiritual immaturity, fasting seemed out of step with a modern faith.
Until I grew some in discernment and wisdom, then I could see that the scripture clearly calls for fasting, but I didn’t want to fast.
I have a food problem. While I do overeat some, I mostly eat the wrong foods for my body. I let laziness choose my meals more than my desire for good health. I’d rather eat healthy foods, but not have to cook or prepare them. I just want easy. Making meals is not my happy place. (So if I ever cook for you, know you are well-loved.)
Additionally, I’ve struggled with eating disorders. While never long-term, I have certainly skirted with anorexia in an attempt to be thin. Struggling with body image has been a lifelong issue.
And all the fun stuff seems to happen around food.
But, over years of listening to Pastor Shane discuss the numerous times that fasting appears in the scriptures, I’ve realized fasting is an important component to spiritual warfare. I certainly have strongholds I am praying over. I have sin in my life that I need to defeat.
But I fight it. I don’t want to give up a meal. I don’t want to turn off my television. My flesh says in its sneaky, slithering tongue, “psshaw, it’s not that important. You don’t have to give up eating. Just keep doing what you’re doing. You’re faithful to God in so many ways. Does He really need this one too?”
And that voice has won more times than I care to admit.
This is where the childlike faith of a seven-year old convicted me.
A couple of weeks ago at church, my daughter’s Sunday school class was learning about following God, learning to recognize His voice and direction.
I didn’t even know that fasting was discussed in her lesson on obedience until the next day.
“Mom, we need to fast today,” she said while I was making her breakfast.
“Okay, why?” I know God’s been bringing up fasting to me over and over, so I was a bit taken aback. God was REALLY trying to get my attention.
“Because I need more of God and less of me.” (She was referring to John 3:30)
She didn’t argue with what she had learned. She just obeyed.
We skipped lunch that day. We spent lunchtime praying and worshiping. It was pretty powerful and convicting.
She didn’t know that she could debate with God or rationalize away a conviction. She just obeyed.
That’s it. Simple.
So what about a childlike faith are we called to have?
My sweet seven year old just blesses my socks off. She knows God’s word and lives it as well as she knows how.
A childlike faith doesn’t ask who is my neighbor.
Yesterday, her team won the challenge in Sunday school. She got two pieces of candy while her friend didn’t get any. When my daughter’s friend was sad, she let her have the that candy was her favorite.
Her teacher was blown away by how my daughter exemplified generosity. She didn’t just share, she gave her the first choice. I’m humbled by that example.
She seeks knowledge and wisdom.
My daughter asked a question that STUMPED me last week.
“If God knew Adam and Eve would choose sin, and sin would cause so much hurt, why did he make us at all?”
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Um . . . I don’t know. Because he wanted to? She’s seven, y’all.
I thought and thought. I couldn’t think of any scripture to clarify my answer. Then, I prayed to God for an answer.
My Bible reading Saturday was in Isaiah 43.
Isaiah 43:7 ESV Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
It was just one verse, but it did answer her question. After consulting our pastors, who confirmed this was a good answer, I took my daughter to lunch and we had a chat.
“God created us for His glory. We may not know why or what that means in full on this side of heaven, but when I prayed for an answer to your question, this verse was in my Bible reading.”
I asked her if she needed a better answer. “No, Mom, I think that answers it. Remember, if you pray for wisdom, God is faithful to give it to you.”
I really struggled not to cry.
In her childlike way, she demonstrated a spiritual maturity well beyond her years. The same child who struggles to obey me, taught me how easy it is to follow Jesus.
Love God. Love people. Believe what he says is true. Obey.
We adults make it so much more complicated.