Childlike Faith

Last week I argued that there’s a difference in childish faith and childlike faith. And that we, as Christ-followers are supposed to move away from childish faith and toward childlike faith. Childish faith is immature; childlike faith is mature. Childish faith is shallow; childlike faith is deep.

In trying to come up with some characteristics of childish faith, I said that childish faith is selfish, unexamined, unfocused, and easy. So you could very easily say that childlike faith must be the opposite of those. But I’m wondering – what specifically is about kids that God likes so much that Jesus would say we need to emulate? Here’s an attempt at a list.

A childlike faith is…

1. Curious. How? Why? What? When? That’s what I hear from my own kids. And though it sometimes gets to be a little too much, the simple curiosity of a child is great. It shows that they’re using they’re imagination. They want to know and experience, and they’re not boxed in by they’re previous experiences. When we come to God asking questions out of sheer wonder, I think He smiles.

2. Unself-conscious. As we grow into adults, we become more and more self-conscious. Soon we don’t sing in public any more. We don’t laugh too loud. We don’t do anything that might make us look silly. But kids don’t have that problem. They live their lives in moments, soaking up the joy, pain, or excitement of the now, and not worrying so much about what everybody around them is thinking. We would do well to be a little more caught up in the “God-moments” instead of worrying if our reactions make us look stupid or not.

3. Honest. This is kind of broad, but kids are uncomfortably honest. If you have a zit on your face, a kid will tell you. They’ll make the statement. They’ll ask the question. They’ll point out the obvious. They don’t skip around the issue but come straight to the point. My prayers are often characterized by me trying to find the right words, or the right formula, instead of just talking to God.

4. Teachable. Jana (my wife) left this as a comment yesterday, saying that being un-teachable was childish. The opposite is also true. Kids, especially when really young, want to try everything. They are willing to learn and are excited about it. In my relationship with Jesus, it seems like He has to tell me or show me the same thing for 17 years before I’m ready to listen.

5. Simple. I love Psalm 116:5 that says, “The Lord protects the simple-hearted.” Kids are simple-hearted. I hope that my kids know – know – that I love them. That’s simple. The world might get complex, but in the end, they can return to that truth. And so can we.

Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells us so. Simple.

Now what would you add?

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  • Ryan says:

    These are great examples. I have one to add that borders one or two of these. It comes from watching my five year old daughter ask Jesus for forgiveness of “all the bad things she’s done.” She told me as though I didn’t know already that Jesus had died on the cross (she goes to a Christian school). The thing is that she is so sure of that because she believes what her teacher tells her about everything. Thus, I’d have to say that to be childlike is also to be impressionable — but impressionable by the right authority figures. She simply knows that Jesus died on the cross for our sins because a person who she resprects told her so. That is childlike faith — just like “for the Bible told me so.”

  • Michael K. says:

    Love that, Ryan. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  • Michael K. says:

    Right on, Becky. Here’s what my dad emailed me today along the same lines:
    “I’ve thought about the Suffer the little children … passage a lot and what child-like faith really means. I would add blind trust to the list. Having watched you guys grow up, it’s very obvious that until a child begins to question, either by being taught to question or by learning to question through experience, he/she will believe and accept anything. I think about how many times we gave you guys medicine or just something to eat. You never questioned it, just accepted it. It’s in a child’s nature to trust. I think child-like faith is total, unconditional, unquestionable trust in God and His promises. So easy as a child, so difficult sometimes as an adult. Even Jesus questioned.”

  • brittany says:

    It is psalm 116:6 not five 🙂 In the new living translation it says The Lord Protects those of childlike faith

    good stuff 🙂

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