Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Acting Childish

I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. MK 10:15
Receive the kingdom of God like a little child. Now what does that mean? How would a child receive the kingdom of God?

For the past few days, I’ve reflected on this verse by thinking about my own three children. While perhaps not little anymore (14, 12, 10), they were recently. So what could I learn from them about receiving the kingdom of God?

My son Brian would simply accept this gift. A gift, after all, is not something that one must work for -- that would be a job. School, for example, is his job, complete with goals, and effort and grades. And while there are things Brian will work for – there are other things that he realizes are well out of the grasp of anything he could attain for himself. Like a new video system. And he accepts these gifts, as a son should, with no apologies. A simply thank you is enough.

In a way, he “earns” his new gifts simply by appreciating the gifts he has been given in the past – not by listing out his most recent accomplishments.

Often, I look at attaining the kingdom as a job. I think “being a Christian is hard work.” But we all know the kingdom of God is well out of the grasp of anything I could achieve on my own. Perhaps I should receive the kingdom for what it is – a gift from Christ – where a simple “thank you” will suffice. Thank you Lord! (And thank you, Brian).

My middle child, Meaghan, would be relentless. To the point of annoyance. When Meaghan has her heart set on something, nothing can turn her away. You can’t distract her. You can’t bribe her. You can’t offer her a substitute.

She stays focused – and whether her goal is acing a school paper, completing a jigsaw puzzle or going to that party she was already told she was not going to – she persists. If I am the one in between Meaghan and her goal, she knows she can outlast me.

Personally, I have my heart set on the kingdom, but I am often distracted. I am easily bribed. I readily accept substitutes. If I were to receive the kingdom like a little child, I would be relentless. I would run in such as way as to get the prize. Like my daughter. (Thank you Meggie.)

My youngest, Erin, would give it away. She would treasure the kingdom—and receive it with joy--even though the price paid was far too much. But soon, she would come across someone, whether friend or stranger, and she would feel for this person. And she would give what she treasured away, like a seat on a crowded bus.

Erin is blessed with two gifts – and eye for those in need, and a heart that wants to act. This fall, she will become the first of my children to walk into the waters on her own accord to be baptized.

Often, I think in terms of the kingdom in me-centric ways. I see a need for me to serve, when I should just see people who need God’s love. I see a need to correct my sins, instead of unleashing the power of God. I think about what I need to do to receive the kingdom – when I should, like Erin, simply find someone and give it away. (Thank you Erin.)

So go. Receive the kingdom of God like a child. And if you have a second, let me know what else we can learn from a child you know.


wilsonian said...

Must be something about the name... ;)
You likely already know this, but Erin is Gaelic for Ireland. And the meaning of Ireland? Peace. She certainly lives out her name!

-another Erin

stacey t. said...

oh ed! erin is getting baptized! that is wonderful. she is a special kid. not to mention such a cute little tomboy.
she's not a "kid" but bethany's message last sun. ws so impressive, i was scared. felt like an old fart.

trace said...

go erin.