“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” I Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)
A parent can expect their child to challenge their authority regularly from the time he is about 15 months of age, if not earlier. The toddler is the world’s most hard-nosed opponent of law and order, and he can make life miserable for his harassed parents. In his own innocent way, he is adorable AND vicious and selfish and demanding and cunning and destructive.
When it comes to rearing children, every society is only 20 years away from barbarism. Twenty years is all we have to accomplish the task of civilizing the infants who are born into our midst each year. These savages know nothing of our language, our culture, our religion, our customs of interpersonal relations…the barbarian must be tamed if civilization is to survive.~ Dr. Albert Siegel
Let me borrow on that analogy and say the barbarian must be tamed if the church is ever going to reach its full potential. How difficult it will be to soar, to do what we have been called to do, if all of us don’t grow up and become adults, no longer childish and immature.
Has the barbaric nature inside your soul been tamed? If not, you’re part of the problem. You are one of the reasons the church still struggles to stay on its feet and behave. I am not referring to being childlike. There is a difference between childishness and childlikeness.
- Mentally they are teachable.
Childlike Christians are often anxious to learn about faith and ready to start exploring its many facets. We should never outgrow this insatiable desire to learn about God and the application of His truth
- Emotionally they are touchable.
Like children, young believers are generally willing to let down their guard, place their trust in others, and become involved in people’s lives. This level of transparency and vulnerability should always characterize a Christian’s life.
- Spiritually they are tender.
Christians who are childlike in their faith are usually open to God’s Word and respond positively to the Spirit. The Lord desires that all His people display that kind of sensitivity to the Spirit.
Children are so tender, and that is how God wants believers to be. Childlikeness is commended all through Scripture, but childishness is condemned severely. Especially when the childishness is in the life of an adult.
- Willful Defiance
“Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things…” Isaiah 30:10
In other words, “I want to hear what I want to hear. If you’re going to get cranky, if you’re going to get negative, if you’re going to come down on us about holiness when we are only human, then go somewhere else and give your message.” That is a childish response.
He who cannot obey, cannot command. –Benjamin Franklin
A basic requirement for being a good leader is submitting to authority, not only before, but while leading. When will we learn to submit? When will we learn to bow before the Father and in all sincerity say, “Have Thine own way”? What is true of a leader is true for an adult Christ-follower.
Or it should be.
- Superficial Commitment
Childish believers often desire to be entertained instead of transformed. They enjoy listening to great preachers and beautiful music. They may even serve in the church from time to time, but they have no genuine interest in applying the truth of God’s Word on a practical and daily level.
“When I was little we used to play church. We’d get the chairs into rows, fight over who’d be the preacher. Vigorously lead the hymn service and generally have a great carnal time. The aggressive kids naturally wanted to be up front directing and preaching; the quieter ones were content to sit and be entertained by the up-fronters.
Occasionally, we’d get mesmerized by a true sensationalistic crowd swayers. Like the girl who said, ‘Boo, I’m the Holy Ghost.’ But in general, if the up-fronters were pretty good, well, they’d hold their audience for quite a while. If they weren’t so good, eventually the kids would drift off to play something else like jump rope or jacks.
Now, that generation has grown up. But most of them haven’t changed too much. Every Sunday they still play church. They line up in rows for the entertainment, if it’s pretty good the church will grow. If it’s not too hot, eventually they drift off to play something else like yachting or wife-swapping.”~ Ann Ortlund
What game are you playing? Being willfully defiant is bad enough. But to add to it a superficial commitment is almost unbearable.
- Easily swayed.
The older I get the more I am convinced that the best way to keep me from being easily swayed is to immerse myself in the Psalms and the Gospels and at the same time be deeply connected to mature brothers in Christ that are more committed to my growth in Christ than I am.
Where are you?
The innocence of children may be more a matter of weakness of limb than purity of heart. –Augustine