“Why did Jesus say to be like the little children? Because their great desire to love and inquisitive nature is still intact.” – Michael Minot
This quote really got me thinking. One part in particular struck a chord: “Because their great desire to love…is still intact.” That’s so true, isn’t it? A child craves love. In fact, one could argue that a child absolutely needs love in order to develop rightly. A child doesn’t really stop to think about it, they just love. When told about Jesus, children deploy an almost impenetrable sense of faith. Most children who are born into Christian homes grow up singing the song, “Jesus Loves Me” and most likely believe every word of it.
Then, those children grow up. They become teenagers and start to question the world around them. Influences and voices from all directions pull them into a constant state of insecurity and confusion. Which voice do they listen to? Which one is true? Teenagers go through a lot of “growing pains.” They will no doubt, to some degree, experience hurt, failure, and fear. They’ll experience rejection. No longer do they have their parent’s loving arms or childhood lullabies to make them feel safe. Not because they don’t want them. But, when we reach a certain age, the world tells us that we have to take care of ourselves. We need to grow up. We need to be responsible for our own actions. Anything less is considered weak, dependent, or immature. So, teenagers scratch and claw and bite their way into society, trying to cling onto an identity that they have patched together using pieces from their tumultuous surroundings.
After these teenagers survive puberty and high school graduation, they are now considered adults. And these adults are ready to face the world head on. And they better be hardened and immune. The “survival of the fittest” is no longer confined to the grade school hallways. Now, things get serious. University, job interviews and promotions, relationships and break-ups. There is no room for error here. And when the subject of love does come up, you’ll get varied reactions. Some will scoff at the very notion, because who knows what love is “for sure.” Some will equate love to casual sex and flings; and some will simply downcast their eyes and retreat into sadness, because that’s something they haven’t felt since they were a child.
The previous paragraphs may all sound very dramatic and exaggerated, but please stop and think for a moment. Have you fully and completely surrendered to love, as you once did when you were a child? Or does the term “love” bring ideas of simply showing kindness to others, and something a little more to your family and close friends. Or perhaps, it brings thoughts of pain and resentment. As adults, we may have a desire to love, but that desire is tainted by past experiences, is it not? Even when it comes to God, some may stop to question: “Does God really love me?” I think the problem does not lie within a lack of God’s love, but within an inability to feel loved. And when we don’t feel loved, it’s hard to give love.
Consider Jesus’ interactions with children and His statements regarding them:
They were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them. (Mark 10:13-16)
We don’t know the reason why the disciples disapproved of Jesus tending to the children (whom were being brought to Him by parents seeking a blessing). Perhaps they didn’t want Him to be bothered by the little ones; maybe they didn’t think they were worthy of Jesus’ attention. Whatever the case, Jesus strongly disagreed with the disciples and openly accepted the children who were set before Him. What a great image of Jesus taking the children into His arms, laying His hands on them and blessing them. This is a true picture of how Christ shows His love to those who humble themselves and trust in Him.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 18:1-4)
Do you become like a child and trust and love God, like you would love a faithful and protective father? Or do you fight the desire to be strong and in control? That’s what society tells us. We have to be in control. We have to do it ourselves or else we’re less than and the next guy or girl will come along and take our place. My friends, this is a lie. Why else would the world tell us to take life by the reigns and God tell us to lose our life for His sake? Society esteems the proud, ambitious and successful; God esteems the humble servant who stores his treasures in heaven instead of on earth.
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. (1 Cor. 1:27-29)
It’s hard. Believing and living this way goes against everything we are taught from an early age. But, at some point in our lives, we have to determine if we love God or simply acknowledge His existence and then go on with our day. The more we view and understand that God is our loving, faithful, and protective Father, the more we can start to be loved by Him. And when we feel loved, we can give love.
“Whisper softly to me
Share with me your heart
And just ignore the world and what it does
I know that you’ve been hurting, you’ve been torn apart
And I pull you close and hold you in my arms
If you give love
I’ll return the love and you will see
So much more than you gave away
If you give love
Give it to me
Listen very closely as I sing this song
And please believe that I mean every word
When I say I love you
I mean it with all my heart
Let it be the best thing that you’ve ever heard.”
“Give Love” by Third Day