“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.”
In this scripture, we find Jesus once again speaking on behalf of the children among him. The disciples got upset that people were bringing their children to him. When Jesus recognized that the disciples were being less than welcoming to the children, Jesus reminded them of what he said just 25 verses ago. In Mark 9, we studied Jesus telling the disciples that God is in each child and welcoming a child is like welcoming God. So when the disciples begin turning children away from Jesus’ presence, he understandably gets upset because the converse is also true: turning away a child is like turning God away. In fact, he adds in this story, these children are the ones we should follow in faith.
Often times when pastors talk about this verse, you hear them say something like, “You just need to accept the Gospel with no questions, like the little children.” How many children do you know who just accept things without questions? Yes, there is something to be said about childhood innocence, but that often gets twisted into people encouraging ignorance. Innocence is harmless, a rather unintentionally passive way to exist in the world. Children’s innocence is beautiful because they have been untouched by the corrupt systems and brokenness in the world. Ignorance is a willful avoidance of necessary knowledge and wisdom for getting through this world. Jesus is not encouraging ignorance.
Children are naturally curious. They ask the “why” questions, often to the annoyance of the adults surrounding them. These why questions send them on journeys defined by curiosity and discovery. Jesus isn’t encouraging ignorant faith where we blindly accept everything we hear to be true. No, he is encouraging people to follow the children’s lead and embark upon a journey of faith defined by curiosity and discovery. It will lead to a greater appreciation and understanding of God.
As Lent is coming to an end, it is important to recognize that old habits die hard. It will be easy to get back into the “routine” life of faith. Perhaps for you, that routine has been defined by curiosity and discovery. Perhaps you have been like a little child on an adventure during your life of faith. Or maybe you have unknowingly forgotten that side of your spiritual life and your Lenten journey has led you to want more in your everyday journey with Christ. Begin thinking about how you will be transformed going into the rest of the year. How will you take on the faith of a child? How can you incorporate curiosity and discovery into your faith?
Loving God, thank you for the children you have placed in our lives. Thank you for their examples of curiosity and discovery. We pray that you would help us to discern what that will mean for our faith lives to incorporate childlike curiosity and discovery into our lives in the coming weeks. Amen.