One of the most powerful and abiding images that Jesus used to describe
God’s Kingdom is the child. In our world of power games and the constant
quest for wealth, the innocence, naivety, playfulness and trustfulness of
children can seem like a strange way to picture God’s presence and
purposes. But, once we recognize that God’s Reign is an ‘upside down’
realm in which the priorities and values are the opposite of our human
systems, we can begin to understand why Jesus taught that we should
become like children.
As we seek to respond to God’s call and participate in what God is doing
among us, we must recognize that there is a lot to learn—and unlearn. We
will need to become, again, like children—beginners, learners in a world
where everything is new. We will need to trust God as a child trusts a
parent for security and guidance. And we will need to approach the world
with a new wonder and openness. As you will recall, Nathaniel had to
learn this when he met Jesus. He had to let go of what he thought he knew
about Messiahs, about Nazareth and about God’s glory and he had to
become open to the new thing God was doing.
One of the qualities that we lose as adults is the ability to listen and learn.
We become ‘knowers’ who feel we have learned all we need, and so we
lose the capacity for wonder, for surprise and for humility. Today, try to let
go of these ‘adult’ ways, and practice listening—to others, to the world, to
God. As you listen, try not to prejudge what you hear—practice openness
so that you can learn the new things God wants to teach you.
Teach me, O God, the humility, the openness and the wonder of a child.