If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times as I’ve walked through the door in our home. One of our children has learned something, discovered something, experienced something and they need to share it with me. They need to educate me on what new thing has entered into their understanding. In a sense, they need to switch places with me—for them to be the teacher and me to be the student.
But our children have other things to teach us, too. Not necessarily with their words, but with their lives. Jesus, after all, told us that “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 13:15). Our kids have some things to teach us about faith. Here are three examples of what that might be:
As we get older, our faith tends to get more complicated. Perhaps that’s because we have seen too much of the world, been hurt by too many people, or have been burdened with too many concerns. Whatever the reason, we have the tendency to look at the teaching of the Bible as somewhat naive, always finding an exception as to why things are not as simple as the Bible seems to make them out to be.
We can learn from our kids in this. For kids, things are blissfully simple, or at least they are for a while. You could argue, of course, that this is because kids live insulated lives, which they do. But you could also say that as Christians, we live in eternally insulated lives. That no matter what else happens, it doesn’t change the simple fact that Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. This is the kind of simplicity of faith we can learn from our children.
There is a beautiful sort of wonder that comes along with being a child. As a kid, you wonder why the sky is blue, how a car works, and how buildings can be made so tall. Imagine (or remember) seeing an ostrich for the very first time. Or walking through the gates of the Magic Kingdom. Or discovering that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. There is wonder there. Discovery. An amazing kind of “everything is the most awesome-ness” that we lose as adults. And what replaces it?
Cynicism. Oh, we can learn from children here and the way they seem to naturally find such wonder at the smallest things. I, and I think we, need a more wondrous faith. When was the last time I truly stood amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene? And when was the last time I wondered at the fact that He loves me, a sinner condemned, unclean?
There is something very unique about the way a child—especially a young child—looks at their mom or dad. As the mom or dad who is receiving that gaze, you feel invincible because to your child, that’s exactly what you are. Daddy is the strongest. Mommy is the most loving. They will always protect me, always provide for me, always come and get me when I need them. I know, I know—that look starts to go away when your kids get older because they realize that you aren’t invincible. You’re a sinner, just like they are, and you will inevitably fail them just as I have and will.
And yet there is something we can learn about the object of faith from that gaze. Every time we fail as parents it’s an opportunity to remember that our true Father never will. Every time we come up short in providing for and doing what’s best for them, we can remind ourselves that God never does. Every example of our own finite intellect, power, and wisdom is an opportunity to refocus our own gaze on the perfect Father. We would do well to gaze more often into heaven with an even greater sort of confidence
Yes, Lord, may it be so—may it be that we not only pay lip service to your words that we must enter in with faith like that of children—may we seek to develop that kind of faith we see exemplified in their characteristics right now.