Monday, November 12, 2007
In Mark 10, people are bringing little children to Jesus to be blessed. The disciples are a bit put out - perhaps they thought Jesus was too busy to have to deal with a bunch of kids. After all he had people to heal, miracles to do, teaching to impart. Jesus rebuked the disciples and gave them a wee object lesson. Basically he said unless we come to the Kingdom of God like a little child, we shall never enter it.
So this got me thinking. What does it mean to be like a child? What are the good qualities of children? My friend Susie and I looked at this as a Bible study and then, as we are both teachers, we made a list of characteristics. I forwarded this onto another friend Kathy Koch who has a ministry to kids (check out her website at Celebrate Kids) and my friend Julie. They had some great input and I would like to present this to you for food for thought. I would love thoughts or comments to be added into the blog as I am still barely into this one!
Positive Attributes of Children
1. Simplicity of faith. They believe in faith and not in works. They never think they can gain heaven on their merit or because of their effort. Simplicity, not sophistication, impressed Jesus. Adults often overlook or complicate things.
2. Trusting. If you promise it or say it is, it just is – no questions asked. (Until trust is violated often enough to cause them to question – how sad.)
3. Children are quick to forgive.
4. Children believe the best in us and of us.
5. Teachable, receptive, and humble.
• They know they need instruction and there’s much for them to learn.
• They are fluid in their thinking and able to bend and change with little resistance
• "Children have a natural enthusiasm for learning. They know there are many things they don't understand (whereas adults are usually so sure they know everything there is to know!). Luke 10:21 is interesting...Jesus opinion of the 'wise and learned.' He was 'full of joy' over the child-like enthusiasm for the new spiritual things the 72 had been learning about and practicing." (Quote from Julie)
6. They’re willing to be dependent on others, especially God.
• Dependence is seen as a natural state rather than a weakness
• Trauma of separation … when a child is separated from its parents it is traumatic, and there is no comfort except from the parent – do we mirror this with God.
• They want to be cared for. They love closeness.
7. No hidden agendas.
• What you see is what you get – good, bad and ugly! Absolutely sincere. Without guile
8. Responsive to Jesus’ call.
• Like the little one Jesus called to Him, they don’t analyze what’s going on. They are often quick to give, sing, pray, talk about Jesus, etc.
10. Keep their eye on the central point of reference
• When children are playing they often keep one eye on their parent. Their security comes from this point of reference.
• When they are involved in an activity they can be totally engrossed in what they are doing but when they see the one they love, nothing else matters. They drop everything and run to you. Nothing else in that moment matters.
• Children react on instinct. Initially they have a strong sense of right and wrong. They do not tend to over think things.
12. Short Memories
• When children are hurt, they cry and its over! They have a short memory and look ahead to the next thing rather than stay in the hurt.
13. We Know Children by Their DEEDS not their words
• Young children often do not have the ability to articulate. They communicate where they are at by what they do.
15. Have Joi de Vivre (Joy of living)
• Think of Kathy’s “Dance of Life” illustration
• They have no shame – they are not afraid to run around like crazy and laugh from their belly
• In Luke 5:36-38 Jesus talks about new wine needing to go into new wine-skins. Keeping that child-like wonder of the things of God and seeking to know Him in new, fresh ways seems to be hard for adults. We get bogged down with the day-to-day grind very easily. For children each day is still a fresh, exciting and new opportunity. (Julie)
16. Live In The Moment
• Children are great at capturing and maximizing the moment. “I’m going to take all that can be experienced right now.” They are often more present in the moment than adults.
• They travel lightly without a lot of baggage. At times they travel through hard places but they don’t camp there. They keep moving forward.
17. Love To Dream
• Children place no limitations – love to use their imagination and think about what could be
• Fantasize about what does not exist and their dreaming is the beginning of making it reality
18. Invest In People
• Children are more interested in friends and people than the things they can get out of them or what their relationships will do for them. Many adults surround themselves with things rather than quality relationships.
• When children set their mind on something, they do not easily give up! They pursue what they want.
20. Not Easily Discouraged
• Children have a lot of self belief and confidence … they often think they can do anything!
21. Spiritually Aware
• children have a natural awareness and belief in what cannot be seen – the supernatural. They don't have difficulty with many of the concepts about God that adults seem to struggle over. What makes them loose this natural awareness I wonder? Keeping that child-like awareness of the spiritual realm can be difficult as adults in this 'logic' focused world. (Julie)
• Children (especially young ones) will tell you about anything and everything that's exciting to them. They get emotional easily (for good and for bad). They will openly share their deepest fears (unless they have learned not to trust adults) and joys. I think this is how God longs for us to be both with Him and with one another. (Julie)
• Babies are often at the center of their parent’s world and this is not necessarily a bad thing. It is here that they learn to trust and receive love. Parents to babies are like God’s hands extended – every care, touch and love is reflection of God’s love to them.
• Children do not recognize their own powerlessness. That’s what empowers them and allows them to dream.
• God gives us everything from the get go. It is ours for the taking. This world teaches us that we are not perfect and we do not have it all. We are insufficient. The world teaches us that we will find what we need externally. God have already given it to us and it is all within – his presence in our lives releases it. God writes us a cheque and says it is blank. The world stamps “insufficient funds” on it and tells us, “you are not enough”.
Class Moment From Julie
I just want to tell you something I overheard one of the little Norweigan boys in my class saying to a friend the other day:
Friend: '...but you might die!'
Benjamin (in an extremely excited, thrilled voice): 'But I don't mind if I die because then I will get to be with JESUS! WITH JESUS!'
Being with Jesus was so obviously the best thing Benjamin could imagine that it blew me away. I don't think I've ever heard anyone so excited about the thought of dying! I had to admit that although I love the idea of being with Jesus some day I really am not as excited as Benjamin about it!! Interesting that with that he also has nothing he fears about his future, including death! A little wake up call for me.
This study is a Pandora’s box. Looking at each of these characteristics begs the question, what makes children lose each of these qualities? I would love to explore each of these in depth.
What Stops Forgiveness?
• Quantifying and qualifying behaviour
• Liturgy of Sins. Leave the past in the past. I remember many times (I was very naughty and willful as a child) that my parents would recite my liturgy of sins and failing in this area. When we do this we are teaching our children that we do not forgive and forget as God does. We teach them to remember which often leads to judgment and holding offenses.
What stops Humility?
• It is seen as weak in the world – where do we see it modeled in pop culture? How many world leaders have this trademark?
• Insecurity/low self worth
• World attitude of “just do it”!