When I was a young child, I asked a ton of questions. I would ask everything from, “Why can’t I have a soda?” to “If God created the world, who created God?” Yes, I was curious.
But I wasn’t alone in my curiosity. The Guardian cites a fascinating study about curiosity in children:
A 1964 study found that babies as young as two months old when presented with different patterns will show a marked preference for the unfamiliar ones. The instinct to explore grows into an instinct for inquiry. Some time after their first birthday, children start to point at things, looking up at their parent as they do so. One of the main reasons babies point is to signal interest, to say, “I want to know about that – what is it?” Before they are able to speak, they are asking a question with their finger.
Children are naturally curious, inherently exploratory. In the Bible, faith like a child is highlighted as an ideal we all should pursue. Jesus even says in Matthew 18, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Wow. Isn’t that a bit much, Jesus? If we don’t change and become like little children, we will never go to heaven?
I used to think Jesus was talking about simple belief here, like we were supposed to check our intellects at the door and take on the brain of a five-year-old. But I don’t believe this anymore, especially when I think back on my own childhood. I didn’t blindly accept things. I asked hard questions and had doubt from a young age. Children are inquirers, not simply taking things at face value.
I believe Christ is talking about two things, humility and dependence. These two concepts are intertwined and equally important.
“Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus says. He’s pointing to the ruling principles governing his jurisdiction. This jurisdiction looks much different than the world.
Jesus could have come to the world as powerful dictator or a victorious military leader. Instead, he grew up as a carpenter and then became homeless, gathering a raggedy group of twelve men together to love the world’s most rejected people. He sat at a table with tax collectors, the thieves of the day. He had compassion on adulterers, people sure to be murdered in that society. He wept when he learned about the death of his friend. Yes, Jesus modeled for us what it means to walk in humility.
You see, in the world, we’re challenged to desire power, influence, fame, and wealth. None of these are inherently bad, by any means. But they must be stewarded with dependence on God.
Kids are dependent on their parents or guardians to take care of them. Two-year-olds can’t get a paycheck or make dinner. They need someone to do it for them—they are dependent.
We, too, must realize our dependence on Christ. Dependence is simply realizing we have a desperate need. We will never find humility if we don’t realize our own limitations.
Faith like a child can’t mean perfection. Have you worked in child care lately? It’s deeper than behavior. It’s a relationship where we’re humbly dependent on God, free to get mad or sad or broken before him. This is a relationship where we’re free to keep our intelligence and our reasoning.
Do you have faith like a child?