Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 2; 147:1-11, Isaiah 49:13-23, Isaiah 54:1-13, Matthew 18:1-14
When his disciples asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” he called over a child and replied, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
What trappings of adulthood cause us to stumble? Pride? Possessions? Whatever they are, we need to cut them from our lives like the offending hand or eye Jesus warned us about.
What does it mean to be humble like a child? It means realizing we are completely dependent on God for our well-being. Everything we have – treasure, talents, even time – is a gift from God. It also means admitting we have little if any control of anything beyond our own behavior. Ego and guilt can easily convince us we are somehow responsible for fixing the world’s problems, when the truth is most of what we can do is clean up our own rooms. We shouldn’t use that as an excuse to duck responsibility, but as a guide to creating healthy perspectives. Insisting on our own way, when that way comes from the narrow understanding of our own experience, can create one of those “stumbling blocks” Jesus warned against. We are to welcome each other as children, because we are all the children of our Creator.
Maybe being child-like grants us a little license to be annoying. Most children go through a “Why?” stage, where every answer they receive is met with another round of “Why?” They are eager to understand the world, and don’t settle for the first answer they receive. We should be just as eager to pepper God with the tough questions as many times as we need to. Some of them will never be answered to our satisfaction, but what we learn by pursuing those answers is invaluable. Be wary of spiritual leaders who have simple answers but discourage tough questions.
Child-like faith isn’t about naivete or ignorance, but about realizing it is more important to be humble than to be in control.
To read other perspectives on this passage from Matthew see The One and the Ninety-Nine and Hands, Eyes, and Butterflies.
Comfort: You don’t have to control everything.
Challenge: Don’t try to control everything.
Prayer: Creator God, I am but a child before You. Thank you for all you do for me. Amen.
Discussion: What does child-like faith mean to you?
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