3And [Jesus] said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:3-4 (NIV)

I spent about a year with this verse in the front of my mind. What struck me as I first read it during that year was the phrase “unless you change.” Hmmm. That means I need to be doing something differently. The way I’m to change is to become childlike. Being childless, I don’t have a lot of experience with childlikeness. So I began to observe other people’s children more intentionally.

God spent that year changing me more than I’ve changed during any other year of my adult life. Much of it came from the lessons I learned from this verse. One of the first things I learned from watching children is their proclivity toward being awed by things around them. They live in a world of wonder.

I do not. Unless I change and become like little children…

Here are some of the definitions for the word “wonder” from Merriam-webster.com:

a cause of astonishment or admiration…miracle…rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience

Do you live in a world of astonishment? Do you see miracles everywhere? Do you live in a world that is awesomely mysterious?

Probably not. You probably live in a world that is incredibly practical and pragmatic. Somewhere in our growing up we learn to value qualities that are the antithesis of mysterious. We learn to be cautious, even in our risk-taking. In business we’re to always have an answer for the boss before he or she asks the question. “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer.

In God, “I don’t know” is part of the wonderful mystery of a God that is bigger than we can fathom.

In much of evangelical Christianity today (both charismatic and noncharismatic flavors of it), we encourage one another to live by faith but expect one another to have a fully-developed plan before we take that first step in faith – and a fully-developed plan by definition requires little of the mystery and miracle of God.

I read a great article recently on Charismamag.com called A Cathedral of Astonishment. Here are a few excerpts:

If explanation had been the first response to the Resurrection, something would have been wrong.

And something is wrong!

What’s wrong is that we have precious little astonishment in our modern gospel….

But in our modern sophistication we have replaced astonishment with something a bit tamer. We have made the gospel reasonable, sensible and practical. We explain the gospel in cogent terms such as “the plan of salvation” and “spiritual laws”—as if it is simply the most rational thing in the world.…

Without astonishment we inevitably reduce the gospel to inert “-ology” and “-ism.” Or worse, it becomes a spiritual “product” that we must “market.” This is consumer Christianity, and it is the bane of our age.…

Throughout the second half of the 20th century, and now into the 21st century, American evangelicals have increasingly touted the virtues of the gospel by promoting it as “practical.” This has become something of an article of faith. It is unquestioned and fully assumed that we should make the gospel practical.…

But do we fail to see that this is the secular language of the market and not the sacred language of mystery? This is the language of consumerism, not the language of Christianity. This is the language of business, not the language of faith….

We’ve lost mystery and beauty and the power they have to produce the kind of astonishment that naturally leads to worship. …

We’ve lost a bit of our childlike wonder at the Gospel. In our need to be “adults,” in our need to have all the answers, we unconsciously push away the wonder of God.

Yet I think there’s a deeper issue at work in the loss of our wonder. It is the issue of pride and lack of humility. For us to experience wonder requires a humility that allows us to admit our own inadequacy – our own inability to understand and explain. Both qualities put us at odds with the values embraced by those around us.

Our culture values being in control. In the midst of embracing the mystery and wonder of God we can’t help but recognize that our sphere of control is puny and fleeting.

Our culture values power. Wonder is a childlike quality that renders us powerless. It puts us at the mercy of the object of our wonder.

Embracing the mystery and wonder of God requires that we embrace childlikeness. It’s a small price to pay for a glimpse of the eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God.

Read the article. The author will challenge you to pursue the mystery and beauty of God.

Let your inner child out. He or she will lead you into the awesome presence of God.

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