1 Corinthians 13:11
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me”
That sounds like someone who doesn’t want to have childlike faith. That sounds like we should become adults and put away the things of a child. However, Matthew 18:3 says,
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 18:3
Now, that sounds like a whole other story. Is this a contradiction? Is your faith completely wrecked now? No, there’s a big difference between the two, and that’s the comparison between childlike faith and childish faith.
Childish faith is reckless, irresponsible, immature, and needs to be put behind you. Childlike faith is encouraged by Jesus and probably didn’t go over very well back in those days. Back in biblical times, children were viewed as property. Need more workers in the field? Free labor. Need somebody to trade for goods? Take the little one. Children were viewed as property, so it’s pretty humbling to be likened to such a thing. Not only that, but the literal translation is “little child.” Not just a kid, but a small one that is pretty incapable of almost anything. This isn’t just humbling, it’s helpless. What does it mean to have faith like this?
We tend to forget that we were once kids too. At one point, you were a child. (Unless you’re a child right now reading this, I don’t know, I just met fifth graders with iPhones the other day.)
One of the arguments against having a childlike faith is that people think this encourages a type of gullible faith. I beg to differ. When you were a kid, you used to have questions, and I mean a lot of questions. That’s part of having a childlike faith. It doesn’t mean never having doubts, but it means giving those concerns to God. You questioned everything as a child, but now you’ve got it all figured out. You also asked honest questions, but now you’re afraid of what people might think. You’re afraid of judgment for not knowing something. At one point you were curious, but now we’re all too busy to look up from our phones. Questions are a part of faith. Jesus asked more questions in the Bible than He actually answered. Someone else online counted and apparently, Jesus asked 307 questions. That’s absolutely crazy, but asking these questions made people think and was central to His teachings.
Outside of questions, you also admitted your fears. Maybe you were afraid of the dark. Sure, you got over that, but you really just graduated to being afraid of your future, being alone, death, or poverty. Who’s the real sucker now? When you were a kid, you ran to your parents when you were afraid. Who or what are you running to now? Your phone? Social Media? Friends? Compartmentalization? Isaiah 43:1 says,
“But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”Isaiah 43:1
God is reminding us of who we belong to. He’s telling us exactly who to run to. Let’s pretend the monster under your bed was real. What would your parents have done? In the middle of the night, when they finally fell asleep, and they’re abruptly woken up, are they ready to fight a giant demon? Probably not, but you were helpless, and you knew they could help. You knew you couldn’t do it alone. You ran to the people you belonged to. That’s the kind of childlike faith we need. It’s not about never being afraid, but it means letting someone else handle it for you. 1 Peter 5:7 remind us of this,
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7
You can reveal your fears to God. You can cast them all onto Him because you trust Him. Do you remember what it was like to be trusting? Children are much more trusting than adults. Maybe they’re just young and naive. Or, maybe you tend to trust people until you’ve been wronged and jaded. Hopefully, you have some people in your corner that you can trust. Usually, those people are the ones you’ve known longer or spent more time with. It’s always been that way. You trust the people you know the most. When you grow up and only know your parents, you trust them because that’s your closest relationship. What’s that say about your relationship with God? Do you not know Him? Are you spending too much time focusing on the struggles, instead of the love of God? You used to not know what was best for you, but now you think you do. You have it figured out, so why trust God? If we go back to the scripture, we can remember that Jesus said “little children.” We have to admit that we’re helpless. We have to lose sight of ourselves and focus on our God. I’m not saying it’s easy. You’ll have to mend your relationship, but that’s always the first step to trust. Having the faith of a child doesn’t mean blindly trusting, but spending so much time with the Lord that you recognize Him and trust Him more.
Childlike faith is not childish. It’s helpless, humble, honest, and trusting. It’s not easy, and it might not always be fun. It takes commitment and a relationship with God, and it definitely takes the pressure off of yourself. Free the burden of knowing everything and admit that you’re a little child in need of a Father.
View an extended version of this entry here.