Ephesians 4:14-16, Matthew 18:2-5

Carl Belcher considers the importance of childlikeness in spiritual maturity.

Carl Belcher
Carl Belcher

One of my favourite quotes on growing up comes from one of my favourite spiritual fathers, John Wimber, who said, 'Maturity does not automatically come with the passage of years. Some of the people we work with may be spiritually much younger than their chronological age. A prayer I pray often is: "Lord, let me grow up, before I grow old."'

So what should growing up look like and how does it differ from growing old?

The Apostle Paul gives us a great answer in his letter to the Ephesians, 'Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.' (Ephesians 4:14-16)

So I guess it looks like it includes speaking out the truth in a loving way, growing mature in all aspects of life and staying connected with others who are trying to do the same. Simples, job done!

Strangely though, one of things I've noticed in my own life, is that I've got so much to learn not just from people who are older in years, or further in their walk with God, but from my own kids. This is especially true when it comes to experiencing awe and wonder of God, His ways and His creation.

Just a few weeks ago I was watching Blue Peter with my eight year-old twins Nathanael & Anaia and they were reporting on a remarkable creature called the Rhinoceros Beetle. This super Hench creature looks more like an armour-plated tank than a vulnerable insect. It is so strong that it can lift up to 80 times its own body weight. The reporter explained that this would be the equivalent of you or me lifting up 10 elephants! So, amazed and excited by this revelation, Nathanael shouted, "Mum, mum, quickly come here. Check out this amazing beetle!" As Sarah rushed into the room, Nathanael continued, "This tiny beetle is so strong that it can lift up 10 elephants all at once!!" I tried desperately hard not to giggle as Sarah gave me the, 'How much sugar have you fed our son today' look.

Even though some of the facts got a bit jumbled up in what he was saying, I too got caught up in Nathanael's enthusiasm. His sense of awe and wonder in just this one small part of God's creation was so contagious that I found myself pausing for a split second, reflecting that this was indeed an amazing beetle.

As each day passes, I find more and more that God uses my children to open my eyes to see Him in new and marvellous ways. Whether it's on a bike ride witnessing them confidently say a friendly, "Hello," as they approach oncoming pedestrians, (and then watching the pedestrians' faces light up with a broad smile), or listening to them pray at night for their friends to know God's love and thanking Him for the small details of life that I often take for granted.

It is no surprise then that Jesus Himself underlined the importance of being childlike to His disciples.

'He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: '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 18:2-5)

Notice that He didn't say, 'If you're already like children you will enter the kingdom of heaven,' but instead He said that we should, 'Change and become like little children'.

Change is a verb. It's an action and a choice. It requires intention.

So today my prayer for you, is that you may grow up in every way to become mature, whilst choosing to change and become like a child, growing in awe, wonder and gratitude towards the one who invites us onwards to explore, discover and marvel at His mysterious and wonderful ways.

Here's to growing up and not just growing old! CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.