“Let the little children come to Me, and don’t stop them…” Luke 18:16
A man was walking with his six-year-old son one Fall morning when the boy stopped, bent over and picked up a beautiful, multicolored leaf. He was fascinated as he turned it in his hand, smelled it and touched it all over. After a minute or so, his Dad was ready to continue on, keeping in mind the coffee and hot chocolate waiting at home. He gently tugged his son’s hand. But then he realized how special this moment was. His little son was reminding him of how beautiful and wonderful this simple fallen leaf was. Without intending it, his child was taking him back in time, when he was a child, running through the leaves of fall, jumping into the piles raked up in neighborhood yards, and the wonderful smells as people set the piles of leaves alight.
He knelt down and scooped up his own leaf then, turning it in his hand, feeling the texture and marveling in the colors. Then he talked to his boy about why the leaves fall, how the tree sap recedes in the winter and just how much he loves him. If the father had not become as a child in that moment, he would have missed the beauty of God’s creation and, more importantly, missed those precious moments with his son. Jesus wants us to live as children with the same innocence and excitement over a fallen leaf.
Matthew 19:13-15 “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.”
Our Lord took care to align our faith with that of a child, yet Paul takes people to task for not growing beyond being children; for refusing to give up drinking the milk of the word and learning to ingest more spiritual substance. He expected the new converts to have moved on from the basics and tackled greater issues of growth in their faith.
1 Corinthians 3:1-2 “Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready.”
Do these verses conflict with those in Matthew? At first it seems so but taking time to see the difference, you see Christ is encouraging all who come to Him to be childlike and open to receiving their newfound faith and in 1 Corinthians Paul is warning us to grow in the faith and not remain as infants, just as in life, we become mature and able to discern between good and evil. The next verses in 1 Corinthians help clarify any confusion:
1 Corinthians 14:20-22 “Brothers and sisters, don’t be like children in the way you think. Well, be babies when it comes to evil, but be adults in your thinking.”
Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”
When it comes to our faith, Jesus clearly explains that we need to be childlike, willing to believe and follow Him to eternal life and paradise. He shows by example that young children willingly believe for they see the beauty and pureness of faith in Christ. They are not held back by adult insecurities or other hurts and wounds. Instead they joyfully come to Jesus, knowing He can be trusted and, more importantly, they recognize His pure love for them. So, He says to us, “become like children and inherit the Kingdom of God.”
And when they come, we must be ready to give an answer for our faith in the same manner as Paul describes: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the One who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.”
As for the Bible contradicting itself— that will never happen! When I began my lifelong journey into Christianity, my dear father-in-law told me, “There will be times when it seems the Bible contradicts itself. When that happens, do as James 1:5 instructs us: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.”