I was driving to church this past Sunday with my seven year old granddaughter in the passenger seat. We were listening to First Baptist Dallas’ broadcast on the radio and she happened to ask exactly where First Baptist Dallas is located. I explained to her that it is in the middle of downtown Dallas, and to help her better understand that some churches are bigger than others, I also mentioned that First Baptist Dallas has 12,000 members.
She got that wide eyed expression on her face and said “WOW!” , and after thinking about it for a few seconds, she asked, “How many people are in our church?”
“About a thousand.” I answered.
Then she pumped her fist in the air and said, “YES! Only 11,000 more to go!
That’s what I call optimism!
Now, I don’t know if it’s God’s plan to add 11,000 more members to our church. That’s up to Him. That’s not my point. The point is, to a wide eyed seven year old, growing the church by 11,000 people presents no challenge at all. And her bright eyed optimism opened my eyes to something Jesus said: In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we’re told how the people were bringing their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them, but his disciples tried to chase them away. When Jesus saw that, He became very upset with the disciples and said to them, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
As we get older, our problems get bigger and more complex. We’re tempted to think, probably more often than we care to admit, that our problems have become too big for God, or that we shouldn’t burden God with our problems by bringing them before Him in prayer. Jesus wasn’t saying we’re to be childlike or immature in our behavior. He was saying we need to view God and our relationship with God from the same perspective as a child.
I’m sure you all noticed how the world around you seemed to get smaller as you grew up. I’ve gone back to look at some of the houses I lived in as a small child. Those houses looked really big when I was five or six. But now they seem so small. What changed? The houses didn’t get smaller. Neither did the world around us. It was our perception and perspective that changed. In the same way, God did not become smaller when we got bigger. For many of us though, our perspective changed. Our perception of God changed. At one point in my life I thought I was no longer loved by God because from my grown up perspective, I thought I had slipped and slid so far back that God just didn’t have any love left to give me. Viewing God through the eyes of an adult, I could not see nor understand the vastness and limitless supply of God’s love. Children don’t have that problem. That’s why we need to see God as a child sees Him.
I’ve always understood that passage I quoted to mean that we’re to view God as our father and ourselves as God’s children, and that is an accurate interpretation. But now, thanks to my granddaughter’s comment, I have a deeper understanding of what Jesus meant when He said we must receive the kingdom of God like a little child. In the eyes of a child, nothing is too big for God. There is no obstacle that God cannot overcome. There’s nothing He can’t handle. When we receive the kingdom of God like a little child, it serves as a reminder of just how big our God really is. We’re to be no less confident in the power of God as adults than we were as children. God is to be just as great in our eyes as adults as He was when we were kids. I believe that’s what Jesus was really trying to teach us!