Why is it So Hard to Be a “Little Child?”

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In all three of the synoptic gospels, Jesus proclaims that we must become “as little children” in order to enter His kingdom (Matthew 18:2-5; Mark 10:15; Luke 9:46-48, 18:16, 17, 46-48). 

Also, God the Father is called “Abba,” three times in the New Testament, once by Jesus and two times by Paul (Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6). This is an Aramaic word that signifies an intimate, experiential (ginosko) relationship with one’s Father, a word that many scholars contend is equivalent to our word, “Daddy.”

However, our addiction to trying to be good, right, accomplished, more knowledgeable and more “mature,” as we saw last week, causes us to resist this idea of being a “little child” with God as our Daddy. After all, a little child is often “bad” and not “good,” wrong, unaccomplished and very immature! Why would God want me to be like that? A little child can’t really do anything positive independently. 

Bingo! What if that is exactly what God is after in my life—me not consciously doing anything positive or praiseworthy? I believe that during his ministry, the Apostle Paul grew in his understanding of this aspect of his life, 

He grew from first seeing himself, in AD 56, as “the least of the Apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9), “the least” of the 15 greatest Christian leaders in history (That still qualifies as something positive, doesn’t it?”).  Then, in AD 60-61, he calls himself “less than the least of all the Saints” (i.e., other Christians, Ephesians 3:8). Finally, toward the end of his life in AD 62-63, Paul had progressed to the supreme pinnacle of success in God’s upside-down economy before he died—the “chief of sinners!” (1 Timothy 1:15). 

Paul matured from seeing himself as the least of the apostles, to the least of all Christians, to finally understanding God’s measure of Christian maturity. He became increasingly intimately aware of, 1.) the depths of of his own sin with nothing of value to offer to God, and, 2.) the absolute certainty of God’s permanent and total forgiveness of all of it.  This constitutes genuine, spiritual growth and the indispensable credentials of a victorious Christian life.

I just got an email from a sister who is becoming gloriously aware of this same process Paul traversed. Here is the note she sent me, used with permission. I love her illustration!

“Robert, I love how you continue to declare the freeing, good news. I want you to know, this little girl extremely appreciates the truth being shared.  I am learning to delight, as a sinner, in the blessing of being my Father’s daughter, with a full stinky, poopy diaper, that everyone else can smell but I am mostly oblivious to, and have it cleaned fresh every morning when I run to Him, delighted to hear what He has to say, and He washes me clean, as only He can 

“I was ‘trained’ to be a Saint and strived to cross every T and dot every I, trying to fit with the intellectual leaders who ‘knew better than me’. But there was still this disconnect. Now,  I am learning to relax as a sinner, knowing it’s all about Him working in me and THAT is amazing grace, … and I am free! SO, SO, SO very thankful for the blessing you and Jill are and that we get to be a small part of it.  Please pass my love on to her as well.”

She is ready to experience (and I’m sure she already is) “the glorious results in trusting Daddy for everything.” As we begin to do so, we discover some amazing things, as faith changes our hope for the future (eido knowledge), into right-now, ginosko experience! “Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1).

I have been a serious Christian for 65 years and it has been only within the last year or so that I have begun to understand what this verse means. I believe that “faith,” in this verse, or “trust,” is based on ginosko or experiential knowledge, right now; “hope” is in the future, and is based on eido, or intellectual knowledge, not yet experienced but anticipated!

This verse tells us that being like a little child and simply trusting what Daddy says, makes what He tells us will happen become reality in our experience right now! “Yes. Daddy, I believe you, right now, no matter what I see!”

Hallelujah! Being like a little child, jumping into Daddy’s arms and actually believing the wild things He says is mind blowing. That’s next week.

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