Tuesday, September 20, 2022

What Is Childlike Faith?

In the Bible, Jesus says we must have childlike faith. That’s great, but what exactly IS childlike faith? 

Well, think about your children or grandchildren, especially when they were young. Remember how they trusted you implicitly? Also, they were so excited whenever they discovered something new. Every day was an adventure, and they looked at the world around them with wide-eyed wonder. 
That’s what Jesus meant when He said we must be like children. We should look at each day as an adventure, and look with wide-eyed wonder at God’s amazing creation. And we should trust the Lord implicitly, knowing that He loves us more than we can comprehend and that He is in charge of our lives.

But is that the way most adults go through life? No, not even close.

Years ago, I heard a horrible story. A man put his 5-year-old son on a bed, and then told the boy to jump off the bed into his arms. When the boy jumped, the father quickly stepped aside and let the child crash to the floor. As the boy lay there crying, the father said, “Now you’ve learned an important lesson. Don’t ever trust ANYONE!”

Hopefully, most of us have never experienced such terrible treatment at the hands of a parent, but the day-to-day grind of life often does two things to us: it erodes our sense of wonder and excitement, and it makes us far less trusting than we used to be. Our personalities are dominated by the “Three S’s,” as we become more suspicious, sarcastic, and cynical. (Yeah, I know cynical begins with a C, but it sounds like an S, so for alliteration purposes, it’s included.)

It certainly is possible for a cynical person to have faith in God, that is, to believe God is our Creator and that our souls will live on after our bodies have died. But it’s possible to have an “arm’s length” faith, where we keep God at a distance since we kind of trust Him, but not fully. We’ve been hurt by the trials and tribulations of life, and we look at the world through jaded eyes. We know God is real, but it’s often in the same way that we know the IRS is real. In other words, we’d rather not have any close encounters.
Having this type of cynical adult faith, with its weak level of trust, is better than having no faith at all, of course. But it’s so much less than what the Lord wants for us. That’s why Jesus taught that people must have childlike faith. 

There is one aspect of this that is important to understand. Being childlike is very different than being childish. When someone, regardless of age, is childish, they are selfish and impulsive and quite willing to make everyone around them uncomfortable so they can get what they want. When two-year-olds act this way, we realize they can’t help themselves and we understand they eventually will grow out of it. 

However, when full-grown adults act childish, it makes everyone miserable and it is the furthest thing from God’s will. Childlike behavior is completely different, and it is the exact attitude and approach God wants from us.

To be childlike, just remind yourself periodically who is in charge: it is the Lord, and certainly not us. Next, practice gratitude on a daily basis, thanking God for His awe-inspiring creation plus all the wonderful gifts He gives us each day. These gifts include the gift of life and the gift of forgiveness, two things we don’t deserve at all.

Most of all, trust in the Lord with the same unreserved love and joy of toddlers who trust their parents and grandparents. Not only is “being like a child” fulfilling the clear teaching of Jesus, it’s also the way to have your life overflowing with serenity and peace. It’s so much better than being suspicious, sarcastic, and cynical. 

1 comment:

  1. "Gift of life & gift of forgiveness, 2 things we don't deserve at all"

    Certainly we deserve to be forgiven. I will say that it is important to remember that the choice of forgiveness always lies with the victim and they have the right to withhold it. However, much if not most of the time people deserve to be forgiven, especially if they have apologized and or otherwise taken responsibility. But we are all each other has and we should try and forgive if we can.
    As far as the "gift of life" goes.....If one is not a believer life comes from natural processes. If one is a believer it is given by a god. Either way it comes to us from outside ourselves with no input from us. Deserving or not deserving has nothing to do with it.
    Ruth O'Keefe