Some further reflections prompted by my previous post.
Jesus had some outlandish things to say regarding children:
…have you never read, “From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise.” (Matthew 21:16, referring back to Psalm 8:2)
See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:10 )
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16 – parallel verses in Luke and Matthew)
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matt 18:1-5 – parallels in the other synoptic gospels)
A child is a role model for what it means to be great? They have worship down to perfection? They have representatives standing before God all the time? The Kingdom of God is filled with childlike people? (Does that mean heaven has the most awesome Lego collection ever??)
With all these extravagant claims Jesus made about children, you’d think we’d take this whole childlike thing a little more seriously. Or, put better, you’d think we’d take ourselves as “grown-ups” a lot less seriously.
At the very least, we should let our kids be kids. Why are some folks in such a rush to turn their kids into mini-adults? We dress them in adult clothes, send them to day care centers with names like “Little Professionals Child Care.” (Yeah. Really.) We make them take nerve-wracking tests to enter the “right” pre-school program. We bring them to movies (or let them watch TV shows) that are intended for adults with grade school educations. They’re pressured to achieve, excel, and if we play our cards right, have nervous breakdowns.
The rush to adulthood for our kids goes on and on. Maybe we should turn that around. Let’s all be a little less grown-up/serious/grave/driven/earnest.
C.S. Lewis had the right perspective:
Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. … When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.
Let kids be kids. Let them mess up their clothes and skin their knees, play with toys and make funny faces, spill their milk and cry over it.
They’re more likely to become citizens of God’s kingdom that way. So are we.