These words came to me this morning as I prayed. Interesting, how we sometimes act as adults, even leaders and especially Christ-followers? I’m not talking about others, but rather myself. Here I am at 62 (actually not until September) being pulled along by the Spirit, kicking and screaming, demanding my own way, opinionated…! I know, your prayers are being answered!
As I finished praying and picked up the Word, there it was in Matthew 18:1, the age old question among disciples, just waiting for me to bite: “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” What an attitude you say? Well “hello!” Honestly, that’s just what was in my mind, for in my heart, I truly am about being my best for Him. Is that childish?
Yet, Jesus apparently didn’t see child-likeness as a problem, for in verse 2, he looks into the crowd and calls a little child, instructing him to stand among them. “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.” (NIV). Now childlikeness doesn’t sound like a bad idea.
I know what you are thinking, “He did not say childishness,” for we abhor such things, but maybe we need to give ourselves a break? I want to be what He wants me to be, and if getting there means that occasionally I go kicking and screaming, observed by others to occasionally step across well-normed boundaries, even violating the expectations of my peers, then I shall take the chance.
He is drawing me toward Him, I am kicking and screaming, but He is Fathering me. When I discover something of Kingdom significance, I get excited and even attempt to implement or execute. It is then that the very childlike behavior that I am trying to adopt, often causes me to behave inappropriately. I then recoil, pulling myself back toward more adult like expectations, because I want others to approve of me. I desire to lead, to add value.
Yet, in these awkward moments, He is faithful to move me ever forward, toward the Kingdom life He describes in the Gospels. “Whoever humbles himself like this child” (that young boy who simply did what he was instructed, by this stranger, Jesus, whom the boy must have be curiously watching at a distance) “is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (18:4).
What’s my point this morning, the older I get the more childish I must appear, for the greater my desire for His kingdom, the more likely my tendency to error as I attempt “irrational obedience.” I know I may in fact appear foolish, and even at times be wrong in my judgment. Yet when I am wrong, He favors me and I then only learn, becoming more discerning in this journey toward abundant living. I am becoming a citizen of heaven and like the citizens of Rome, transplanted by the Emperor to impact the culture of Jerusalem, I may just impact the culture of my city?
This child like behavior is not all bad. (I trust in my attempts to communicate this morning, I am not babbling like some child?)
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.” I Cor. 13:11
My problem: “I know in part,” just enough to be dangerous, but childish enough to hope toward manhood, even if I come kicking and screaming.