A childlike faith

Last Saturday my family and I went to the South Dakota State Fair. While we were there we walked through several campers that were on display. We are not in the market for a camper, but we thought it would be fun to look at the range of options and features (and prices) that were on display. After looking at several my son, age six, commented, “Next year when we come to the fair let’s bring some money and get a camper.” I had to laugh to myself at his thinking. Here we were in a camper that cost about twice my annual salary and his thought was simply, “This would be cool to have, Dad should get one.” He has a minimal understanding of money–he has been getting a small allowance since he turned five, and he sometimes has to save up his own money to purchase things he wants–but he does not really grasp the fact that his parents have finite resources, too, and cannot just “bring some money and get a camper.”

Now, there is a fair amount of debate about whether or not the Scripture instructs is to have a childlike faith. In Matthew 18 Jesus said to His disciples that unless they became like little children they would never enter the kingdom of heaven. Some interpret that to mean that believers are to have a childlike faith. Others suggest that that is not what Jesus meant at all, since children can be gullible and led easily astray and Scripture makes it clear that believers are to test what they hear and read, both within the church and without, against God’s Word, and that is not something children are prone to do. In advocating this second position I once read someone’s explanation that Jesus was instructing the disciples in the need for humility, and children are “characteristically humble and teachable.” I am not sure I would agree with that statement; having worked with children for the last fifteen years I would not suggest that many of them are naturally or characteristically humble. So I agree that we are not to have a gullible faith, but I would suggest that we are to have a faith that is simple, pure and complete–faith like my son demonstrated at the fair.

In Mark 10 Jesus says, “Whoever whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” So what does that mean? I think it means to have complete and total trust in God like a child does in his parent. As an adult, when hearing my son’s comment about the camper, my mind immediately thinks multiple things–no way can I afford this, I wouldn’t use it enough to justify the expense anyway, what kind of vehicle would I need to pull this thing?, and would I even want to pull it? are just a few of the thoughts my mind covers in a manner of seconds. Similarly, when it comes to faith, the adult mind can quickly think of many questions, objections, obstacles and arguments against the simple (but profound) message that God is holy and demands judgment for sin, He sent His Son to earth as a human being, Jesus lived a perfect life and died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and rose again three days later, and only by accepting that can I have eternal life in heaven. A childlike faith, though, is one that accepts that, believes it and embraces it.

Needless to say, I will not be taking “some money” to the fair next year to buy a camper. But it was a touching moment for me to reflect on the faith my son has in me, and it was a powerful reminder of the kind of faith I need to have in my Heavenly Father.

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