The older I get, the more I’m tempted. Tempted to be:
I have to admit, the more I mature, the harder it is for me to worship. To trust. To pray.
Today I have more control over my life than I’ve ever had. I have more financial security. More independence. More freedom to make my own decisions and choices. But with more control comes more temptation. The temptation of power and pride. The temptation that I can do it on my own. The temptation that I don’t really need God.
The older I get, I sense God calling me to be younger.
Here's my audacious goal: By the end of this post, you will be younger.
Jesus favored the young. He lifted up the child, the weak, the last, the least. When the disciples believed their work was too important for child’s play, Jesus replied, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:14)
As we mature we become less a child, yet Jesus said, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).
What does it mean to "become like children?" How do we do it? Focusing only in the gospel of Matthew, here are three child-like traits that Jesus lifted up for emulation. Here's how you become younger.
As we get older, it’s harder to ask for help. By contrast, children have to ask for help. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you . . . If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:7,11)
The older we get, the more control we have . . . or we think we have. We find it harder to pray because we know where food comes from; we work for it. We know how the mortgage is paid; we earn a paycheck. We know how to deal with sickness; we have a healthcare system. There’s no need to ask, because we have the answers.
But Jesus says, “Ask.” Martin Luther described prayer simply as children coming to ask of their father.
I was talking to a guy recently who was describing the complexity of his life. Working 70 hours a week, tension at home with his family, finances are tight. And he said, “I’ve done this and I’ve done that, and I’ve tried this. But I’m not sure what God is doing.” And I said, “Have you asked him?” Just ask.
To learn is to be receptive. A life-long learner isn’t someone in a program at a university. It is someone who is always open to something outside of themselves. Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children.” (Matt. 11:25)
This verse is convicting to me. I have a bachelor’s degree in theology. I have a master’s degree, called a Masters of Divinity (It sounds like He-Man, Masters of the Universe!). I am “the wise and understanding.” Yet God’s truth is often hidden to the wise. We can’t see it. We miss it. Paul says that the foolishness of God shames the wisdom of men. The more you think you know, the less you really do.
Notice what Jesus said about children. He has “revealed” to little children. “Revealed” means that God does it. And children are receptive. To learn is to be receptive. Are you receptive? Or are you closed off? Children are open, flexible, and humble. But we’re often rigid, stuck, resistant, stubborn.
Children in the first century had a status similar to a slave or servant. They were often abandoned and discarded. Jesus said, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:26-28)
Jesus inverted the model of what it means to be great. The greatest is the least. The first is the last. The best is the slave. Being childlike means that we embrace being last. Being a kindergartner is below a 10th grader. Being a first grader is below a senior.
Jesus calls us to a lower position. He invites us to humility and servanthood. How easy is it for you to go to the back of the line? How easy is it for you to be last? How easy is it for you to give something up for someone else?
The older we get, the younger we must get.
The more we grow into men and women, the more we must be a boy or a girl.
The more influence we gain, the more we seek the margins.
The more power we have, the more we embrace weakness.
The more authority we have, the more we confess our vulnerability.
The more control we have, the more we divest of it.
Before you are a boss or an employee, a parent, a leader, or an influencer, you are first a SON. You are first A DAUGHTER. When you were a nobody, God called you somebody. When you were infantile, helpless, and ignorant, God claimed you as his own.
No matter your chronological age, you are a child. So ask, learn, and be last.
Feel younger yet?