Because life is a series of edits

Becoming More Like Them (part 1)

In Church, Education, Seminary on March 9, 2008 at 4:08 pm
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus, Matthew 18:3

“If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree,
I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, not me!”
Peter Pan, “I Won’t Grow Up”

Child-like. Childish. In most adult minds, there are few differences between the two, as evidenced by most church children’s ministries’ desire that kids forsake childish ways in exchange for a more adult variety. After all, wasn’t it Paul who said, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me”? Indeed.

But there’s a difference between being “child-like” and “childish.” Shelly Campagnola, in her article in the book, Children’s Spirituality, paints a powerful picture of child-likeness – not for children (after all, a kid is as close to being a child as one can get) but for adults. She writes:

“What does it mean to become like a child? It means to see children from God’s redemptive perspective, and to become like children from the culture’s perspective. The child is on the outside, not included in the inner circle of those who think they have the way to God. The child is on the bottom, not considered eligible for recognition or participation and thus does not seek those. The child is powerless, voiceless, defenseless, claimless, forgotten and forsaken. The child is the one who is brought to Jesus, not one who assumes access. The child is the one pulled out of the gutter by a hand that says he does not belong there even when everyone else says he does.” (86-87)

Becoming child-like is not about being young-at-heart, but about being young, period; it’s not about children becoming more like us, but about us becoming more like them.

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