Then there is the fact that I started going bald at the age of fifteen. Yeah, I’ve heard it all. Baldy, cue ball, car with my sunroof open, Lex Luthor, and my personal favorite: baldilocks. That’s not even to mention the fact that my hairline makes me look 5-10 years older than I really am.
Last but not least, you may or may not know that I used to be really skinny…unhealthily so. That was not the object of the name calling, however. Since I was so small, my ears looked absolutely ginormous. I was called big ears, dumbo, a taxi with the doors open, wolfman, and for two years of my high school career I was called “yurs” by absolutely everyone, including teachers. You see, yurs is the country pronunciation of ears. And that was my name. For two years. That’s why I decided to get fat.
Being a constant target of name calling, I have learned to take it in stride. I have often embraced these names and even allowed them to become a large part of my identity. Since I handled it so maturely, however, the one name I was never called was childish. Yet, I am not sure that would have been an insult.
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. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-4 NIV)
In order to enter the kingdom of Heaven, we need to become like children. What does that entail? I seriously doubt that Jesus wants us to do nothing but play all day and eat a steady diet of PB and J. I really don’t think He wants us to revert our intelligence and lose our maturity. So what in the world could be so holy and righteous about behaving like a child?
1. Joy – Have you ever seen a child light up when their parent arrived after being away for even a short time? Or have you witnessed a child doing what they enjoy most without worrying or even caring who sees them? Joy is something that adults often run very short on, mostly because they worry too much.
2. Forgiveness – I, for one, have never seen a child carry a grudge. They are very quick to forgive, and their forgiveness is real. That’s another rarity for us adult-folk.
3. Commitment – We often think of children going from one toy or game to another, and that is definitely true. But when they find something they buy into, something they absolutely love, they give their everything to it. It may often borderline obsession, but if we could put that much focus on our faith just think about how much more impact we could have on the kingdom of God.
4. Compassion – Sure, kids fight over toys and bicker with each other. But if you have ever spent time with a child, you know that if they can wrap their minds around how they may have hurt someone then they are remorseful and more than willing to change. They care about the feelings of other people, and they are not afraid of showing it.
5. Genuineness – With children, what you see is what you get. They don’t try to hide who they are and they don’t try to act like anybody else. Their lives are an open book, readily displaying the good and the bad for all to see. That sounds like a group I would love to be a part of.
5. Eagerness to learn – Children are like sponges. They are always asking questions and wanting to know more and more about the things that interest them. Not us, though. We know it all. Even about our faith. How laughable is that?
6. Willingness to follow – Since we feel like we know it all, it is difficult for us to get behind a person or even a cause and follow wholeheartedly. For children, once you earn their trust, they will follow you almost anywhere. They will do what they are asked to do without analyzing the issue to death or trying to find a more efficient method. Just think how much more of His work we could do if we would just stop planning and get to it.
I realize this list is not exhaustive. The more I learn about the character of God and witness the nature of my own children, the more I understand what Jesus is talking about here. And the more I learn that I have so much to learn. I personally cannot wait to see what my children teach me next about how to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.