Lent Day 8: Matthew 17-18

I’ve become a bit cynical.

Ok, ok! I’ve been very cynical for some time. I guess it’s what age and life do to you eventually.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, how many times have we seen a newspaper headline, heard someone on the news come out with a fact or seen a post online which claims an amazing/scary thing which furthers a particular agenda? Pretty much every day, I guess. And how many times, when we’ve decided to check that fact out, has it turned out to either be only part of the story or complete rubbish? Quite a lot.

Checking the facts is a good thing. You can’t always take things at face value, especially if they have wide ranging implications for us or others.

So, when Jesus says,

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:3-5 NIV)

Is he asking us to blindly accept everything which he or the scriptures teach us unquestioningly? Many people think this is the case. Many people look at children and think of them as highly impressionable people who will simply accept what they’re told by their elders. They think, therefore, that is how we should take God’s word. Literally, without debate or question. They think that to question the Word of God is to put yourself above God. To question him and his motives. They think this is heresy and shout down anyone who thinks otherwise.

Do as you’re told. Don’t rock the boat. You’ll be ok.

Now, I have three children. They’re all in their teens now, but I still remember, when they were little, the one question I would be asked more than any other. Any parent or teacher will instinctively know what this question is.

“Why?”

The sky is blue – Why?
Vegetables are good for you – Why?
It’s time for bed – Why?
You need to wash your hands – Why?

Why, why, why, why, why?

It’s a cliche, but kids are like sponges. They learn so much in their early years and turn from eating, crying, defecating, helpless blobs into walking, talking, laughing, playing, sociable, questioning little people in no time at all.

They learn. They want to learn. They need to learn. They see everything as a chance to learn. And to question. Because they don’t just need to learn, they need to understand. How? When? Where? Why?

Jesus asked us to love the Lord with all our hearts, allow our souls and all our minds. We need to learn, but we need to think, probe, question and understand. Like children.

Another thing about children is their acceptance of others, despite differences. Many times I’ve heard stories of children who have tried to describe children of different races, or with a disability or deformity of some sort, and they’ve chosen to talk about hair colour. Or eye colour. Or the coat they’re wearing.

We do that as adults, but it’s because we’re trying to avoid some sort of elephant in the room. With kids, though, they see a person rather than skin colour, or a wheelchair, or a large birthmark. They only know people.

That is how we are to be with others. It’s how Jesus is with others all the time. He sees past the outside and into the heart, soul and mind. He sees past our piety and into our desire for forgiveness and to forgive. He sees past what we present to the outside world and into the person who we really are.

This is all what he meant. To question doesn’t mean you have no faith, it means you want more. To debate the meaning of his teachings and to as for guidance is what we’re made to do. To do this and to share it with others, everyone, and to teach and learn from them is what we are here for. To treat our lives as one giant school lesson in on earth-sized classroom. With seven billion classmates and friends.

So we need to listen, learn, ask, question and be open to what we hear and find.

Why?

“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”” (Matthew 17:5 NIV)

That’s why.

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