Faith like a Child

Good morning or afternoon!

I’ve seen many videos of kid vs adult life. It shows how simple life was as a kid, versus as an adult when everything is complicated.

I look at my kiddos and their biggest worries in life; who will buckle me in? Grandma or Auntie? Who gets the blue cup this time and who gets the green one? Who gets to have that particular book at bedtime?

One time we had just pulled out of the driveway and my niece says “I want Grandma to get me out of the car” which then set off her little brother “No! I want Grandma to get me out!” We hadn’t even reached our destination.

As a kid, their outlook on life and their worries are nothing compared to an adult. Can you imagine if your biggest worry is who gets the blue cup at lunch?

A child’s outlook and level of faith, we could almost call pure. They have not been exposed yet to the harsh world of reality, cynicism, and worry. As their family, we try and shield them from the world as long as possible. But once they are exposed, their simple pure faith is replaced by doubt and second-guessing.

In the Gospels, Jesus talks of having faith like a little child. Now, here is where it gets a little sticky.

The Bible never uses the words “childlike faith.” But it is the underlining theme in Matthew 18 and Luke 9. Faith is a very humble quality, which is perhaps why it is associated with childlikeness.

These chapters begin with Jesus’ disciples asking which of them was the greatest, or the closest to Him. Jesus responded to their debate by taking a small child to His side and saying that the least among them was the greatest. Luke 9:46-48

46 Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. 47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.”

He told them that they were to “become like children” to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew 18

3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

Babies, toddlers, little kids, all of them are dependent on their families for nourishment, education, and everyday needs. They have faith in their family; they know they are going to be cared for.

In our passage, Jesus was pointing out the truth that a child is completely dependent on adults for safety, sustenance, and knowledge. Similarly, the faithful person depends on God in a dependent way. The faith God looks for is humble, teachable, and trust—like a child.

Childlike faith is a metaphor for trust, dependence, love, and encouragement to ask for what we need.  

Faith and trust; two of the things children learn early on that they can have in their family. If I promise to do something with my kiddos, they don’t doubt my word. Because I’ve never given them a reason to doubt me, and because of that, they have faith in me.

From an early age, we have taught our kiddos the simple truth that Jesus loves them, He cares for them, and He is always there. My nephew’s favorite song is ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,’ between the truth that we have taught him about Jesus and the lyrics of the song, he knows we are all in God’s hand. Jesus loves Me is another favorite song; again, they believe the song fully, because all they need is the assurance and the lyrics to know that Jesus loves them without any doubt.

Adults don’t tend to have faith like a child. Once a child grows up and reaches adulthood, they get exposed full-fledge to the harsh world, and their whole minds change. The simple promises and beliefs that they once believed purely as a child, now get mixed with doubt and second-guessing.

Everyone to some point is a fact-checker; see a story or a stat, and some have to compare a dozen sources before we believe something to be true. While in this day and age, that might not be a bad thing, but that’s not the avenue I’m going down.

We are a population of cynical people. Somewhere in our transition from child to adulthood, our brains go through a change. We go from believing and trusting to second-guessing every little thing.

When we doubt someone or something, there has to be something to base that doubt on. If I promise something to someone, and I fail to do it, and I continue to fail, doubt will creep in. That person will not have faith in me or my word.

What basis do we use when we doubt and lack faith in God and His word? Often in my Sunday school class, I talk about God and His promises. And I ask them: can God go back on His word? If He promises to do something, does He change His mind? That would give us a basis for a weak faith and doubt.

Let’s look at five times that God failed to keep His word…

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So, where is the foundation for the doubt? Where has God failed us? He hasn’t. But yet it’s difficult to fully believe because we no longer have faith like a child. But what is faith?

Faith is defined as a complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Having faith in the love and sovereignty of God is arguably the most prevalent idea of the Bible. Scripture compels us to have faith in God and the commandments of His Word, following the teachings of the Old and New Testaments.

But, what are some ways that we can exercise a childlike faith? First, Childlike faith asks honest questions.

Kids ask a lot of questions. They simply want to know the truth. Yes, children are sinful and do challenge authority, but think of their curious questions, their eager questions, their innocent question. Each one has a single motive: teach me.

We forget this as adults because we encounter (or ask) so many loaded questions – questions with ulterior motives and meant to challenge.

Children are not like this. They are just eager to know the truth. And we find the truth in God’s word. It is there, waiting to be read and applied to our daily lives.

Faith like a child asks openly. Unlike adults, children do not fear for their reputation or image and do not care who is around when they ask a question. They can cause many an awkward situation when they blurt out a question at the most inopportune time. But children also focus only on the one they are asking with complete trust that an answer will be forthcoming. They don’t see the world or the people around them, they just see the person they are asking the question to.

Imagine if we prayed like this and we’re so focused on God that what others thought or who else might know of our questions, ignorance, worries, or doubts would be of no consequence.

Childlike faith asks and expects an answer. God knows everything; so much that it is beyond our capacity to ask or understand.

We can be completely vulnerable, honest, and open with our questions and we can expect that God will answer us with precisely what we need when we need it.

God is the answer to our questions and doubts. His presence and love are what we need. And always will receive.

We know a simple truth that He loves us. That is shown in His word, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. We know His unfailing promises: I will never leave you or forsake you, I will be with you always, nothing can separate you from the love of Christ, fear not for I am with you.

As humans with a cynical brain, we want proof before we put our faith and trust in something.

Why is it so difficult to have a childlike faith, when we have the ultimate proof? We have the holy, pure word of God. And it is filled cover to cover with the truth. Promises and messages simple enough that a child can understand.

And if we fully believe each word, we will have faith like a child.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6