How Do We Become Childlike in Dangerous Times?

The older I get, the more I want to become like a child. Not to extend my life but to immerse myself in it.

Jesus said that unless we turn and become like children, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven. He told us we must humble ourselves like a child and in this way, we would be great in heaven. (Matthew 18:3-4)

Those are powerful words and yet, I hear few people ask what it means to become like children.

I think about it all the time these days, especially as I see more children forced to act like adults or exposed to adult situations years before they should give up stories and play.

I think about it because our culture seems, daily, to be more and more drained of joy, of wonder, of laughter, and of play.

Jesus invites believers of every age to receive His stories with open hearts, with wonder, with joy. He invites us to seek, ask, and to knock because “the government is on his shoulders.” The government of the world. The government of our times. The government of our daily lives is on him. We can trust that.

Here’s an example (offered with a tongue-in-cheek smile and a spirit of love) of how a person who has become like a child receives a story Jesus tells and how a person who refuses to become like a child receives the same story.

First, the one who has become like a child quietly listens and hears this:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’  Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”  He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:30-37 ESV

The one who has become like a child asks questions and follows Jesus.

What’s a Samaritan? A denarii? A Levite? Where is Jerusalem? Why was he going to Jericho?

What happened to the robbers? What is compassion? What did the oil and wine do for his wounds? Did the oil and the wine have a deeper meaning?

Who are the people I treat like Samaritans? Have I been walking past hurting people, Jesus?

Did people get angry when you told this story? Did that make you angry?

Jesus, can you help me see the hurting people and show me how I can help?

How can I be as generous as the Samaritan? Are there people I don’t even see that you want me to see?

Lord, show me your mercy and help me to be merciful. This week, I’m going to keep my heart open and pay attention to those who are hurting around me. Help me remember to do this, please. Amen.

Now, here’s how the one who refused to become like a child receives the same story:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.”

That’s a dangerous road. He shouldn’t have gone alone. Why didn’t he bring someone with him or have protection? I would never travel a road like that without thinking of the danger. I hope he learned a big lesson!

And why is the story about a man? Do you just mean a person? Then, why not just say person? Women get hurt all the time. Doesn’t this story encourage Christians to ignore the wounds of women? A person was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. That works. Are all Jesus’s stories about men? Maybe it bothers me that the man is a victim. We’re not comfortable with the victimization of men. There must be a better way to start this story that will draw more people in.

“Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.”

This feels very uncomfortable to me. Are we saying all priests ignore the hurting? Are we talking about just Jewish priests or Catholic and Episcopal as well? I know some priests who are wonderful and would never walk past an injured person without helping. Same thing with the Levite. Is he representing all Levites or even all Jewish people? That’s a pretty broad generalization, isn’t it? Have we considered if maybe they were heading somewhere to help people equally in pain? Maybe they saw the other guy coming and figured he would help. Have we considered that? Does this parable have denominational implications or ethnic? I’m not sure we should even be telling this story any longer.

“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.”

Well, in our times, that Samaritan would likely get sued for administering first aid without proper licensing, that’s all I know. It’s risky business to provide aid without knowing the victim or going through proper channels. I mean, maybe we should get a first aid/CPR class going at church if this is what people are going to start doing. Can we check our liability insurance to see where we’re covered? And the guy had wine with him. That’s all kinds of problematic. Why didn’t Jesus just say antiseptic?

“Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care”

 . . .never mind. I don’t think you’re listening.

What? No. I heard you, Jesus! I’m all over this. I think we should form a ministry team to train our staff in emergency medical interventions (after we check our liability insurance). Then, we’ll form a discovery committee to look at local medical ministries. Maybe we should also have someone look at all the parables to see which ones feature women so we can highlight that next week. And warn people about the wine reference but no, no, there’s definitely material here we can work with and . . .

Hey, Jesus, come back!

Indeed, Jesus, come soon. But until then, have mercy on us and help us to abandon childishness to become like children.

Help us recover our wonder, our joy, and our willingness to receive You every day.

**Dear Reader, I offer this with a heart of humor and not judgement as I wrestle with what I need to do to become childlike as Jesus invites us to do. What do you do to become childlike in our dangerous times?

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    The Conversation

  1. Tammy Breeding says:

    I laughed at the sting of truth in what you wrote! I have been contemplating looking at the world through the eyes of a child as I have gotten older, and also because I have a young adult with special needs. If Childlike were a country, I find myself wanting to visit more and more often, maybe retire there!

  2. Jan Clough says:

    Dear Lori what a thought provoking message just brilliant! The closer we get to Jesus the more compassion we will have for the hurting, the lost, the opposition (as we perceive them) and not count the cost. My mother would say that the greatest thing you can give is yourself, isn’t that exactly what Jesus did and does for each one of us. We must strive to stay close, to follow his example and do likewise.
    Thank you for that wise lesson. I hope so much you are fully recovered.
    God bless you Lori ❤️

  3. Cindy Wohl says:

    Pay attention to the small things. Children will notice the tiniest thing and it becomes to them an endless source of wonder, like a ladybug, or a twig, or a leaf, or a speck of dirt on the carpet. Don’t despise the small things-the quiet person in church who never talks, the person standing on the corner I pass every week, the ducks in the pond out back every morning, the cashier at the grocery store or the baggers, the menial tasks that need to be done at church that people overlook and nobody will ever see that you did-financial needs to be met that nobody knows about. The more I get to know the Lord, the more I see He is a God who delights in the hidden and secret and small things-things that do not get the fanfare, but have His undivided attention. Thank you for this reminder. I love your blog.

  4. Wen Labrum says:

    Thank you. This was eye opening…thank you for the comparisons. Our Country has lost its way and we Christians need to continue/start becoming more childlike. I also see a lot of selfishness in our Country…..too many rules due to lawsuits which does in essence prevent the giving to others. Thank you again, Lori, prayers for your continued recovery.

  5. Kirsten Panachyda says:

    Yes, Lord, help me to respond with curiosity and teachability. Help me see myself in the mirror of Your stories. Help me hear Your heart.

  6. Amanda & Nelson Snyder says:

    Oh JESUS, I feel very childish and not childlike many times. Lori, your development of the ?’s of the child need to be asked. Help me with patience & Your Love and remember Your Power in our lives.
    I need to ask the ?’s but often fail.
    The comments re: insurance, etc. – that is on many Church members minds because of our litigious society.

  7. Rob McCullough says:

    The Lord showed me that part of being like a child is responding to our built in desire to run into our Fathers Loving arms and love on Him while He Loves on us. That desire is built into every child. When He showed me this, He reintegrated me with that child and I freely run into His Arms any time I desire. It’s wonderful! It’s for all of us. Heavenly Father, reveal Your Wonderful Fathers Heart to Your Sons and Daughters! Help us to let go of the blocks to our being like a child, and be free to Love You as You Love us!

  8. Gerald Crawford says:

    I like that. Well done.

  9. Robyn J. Plocher says:

    You are spot on! Sadly, some of our religious leaders, my peers, are the first to jump to the joyless response.
    For myself, I look for beauty every day. Children literally frolicking on a surprisingly warm winter day, a hawk or bald eagle, a red and purple sunrise just to name a few.

  10. Chris D says:

    Thank you for the challenge, Lori. I plead guilty to making a thousand excuses for turning a blind eye to the needs I encounter on my own journey. In my line of work, I actually enter the homes of the poor to assist them with benefits. Many times I have made excuses for not stopping to meet a need. Excuses slow my Christian reasoning, such as, “If I help this senior buy a washer so she doesn’t have to do her laundry in the bathtub, what kind of a professional am I?,” or, “If I give this client a ride to the pharmacy today, they will call me every time they need a ride somewhere.” Our culture constantly reminds us to stay focused on our daily goals and, above all, don’t become an enabler! But, when those philosophies runs counter to the Spirit’s kind voice saying, “Let’s help this widow today,” I need to learn to shut down the priest and the Levite. In fact, right now I feel convicted to go back and see if that lady still needs a washer!

    • I am in similar work. I have learned to speak frankly about how I am willing to help but also am going to encourage healthy boundaries. I try to do as much through my church as I can and involve others (as confidentiality allows, of course), so it isn’t a “me” thing but a Jesus-thing. Thanks for sharing.