are you ready to talk about another one of those misused christian-ese phrases? the one I’ve got for you today is one that has blown my mind since I’ve stopped to think about what it actually means, underneath all of the perceived uses and baggage it perhaps carries. and now that I’ve soaked in all the goodness it actually holds, I’m juuuust a little obsessed with it.
sometimes we get it wrong. all of us. the problem comes when we take what we got wrong and use it to teach others. that’s what I believe happened with this really incredible teaching of Jesus.
if you’ve grown up or been around fundamentalist or evangelical circles for much of your life, you’ve probably heard the term “faith like a child” or “childlike faith” tossed around pretty frequently.
here’s where it comes from, in case you weren’t sure:
about that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn [change] and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. so anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. and anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
Jesus is all about living life like. a. child.
this is often taken and only half of the meaning is used. little once are so full of dependence. they’re so completely in love with their parent, often mimicking every move and following every step.
but here’s the other thing…
if you’ve ever been around a toddler, you’ll know this: they ask all the questions.
every sound out of their mouth is a why? or a how? or a I don’t understand? little ones are full of questions, of doubts, of a need to know, to be explained to, to understand. little children pester with questions, they fear separation, they worry about small things and voice their needs and confusions often.
and so if we truly want to be little children, our faith requires that we ask.
our faith depends on us doubting vocally to our Father.
our faith demands that we voice our how’s and why’s and I don’t understand’s.
if I’m honest, this is soooo backwards to what I was always taught. fear and doubt are the enemies of faith, right?
so. dead. wrong.
fear and doubt are only enemies of faith when they go unexpressed, un-verbalized, and stuffed down because we are too proud to admit they exist.
they are only enemies of faith when we allow them to fester under the surface and take root in our souls instead of setting them free and out of ourselves with our words and prayers.
and just as Jesus said, it takes so much humility and a deep security in our humanity to be able to unabashedly question and desire confirmation from Him. it takes a desire to change and become to be able to admit that sometimes we don’t know and to want to seek out truth.
and God forbid that we don’t welcome others who voice their deep doubts, who vocalize their fears and questions and needs because that is closing our door to Jesus himself.
worse… if we shut the door on doubting, on questioning, on searching deep and wondering aloud and daring to ask of our Father… if we pretend we have it all together and keep Jesus at arm’s length as simply a teacher and not a loving and compassionate Friend & Father who is unafraid of all of our humanity… Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t for us.
and this is the deep truth crying out to the least of these, to the spiritual children at heart…
you, questioner, are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
you, crying out in fear and neediness to Jesus, are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
you, un-welcomed for your doubting, are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
you, who is unafraid of your lack of understanding, are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
you, desperately screaming the why’s and the how’s, are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
you, welcoming the doubters and questioners and becomers into your home, are welcoming Jesus Himself and are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
you, who cling to Jesus and aren’t sure about anything else in the world, are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
you, outcast for your becoming, are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
blessed are you.