October 14, 2015
We have all heard it. Jesus says we must be like "little children" to get into heaven. So, it's important we know what Jesus means. In fact, It's essential we not only know what Jesus means, but we live it as well. The responsibility of living like Jesus wants us to live is yours. I will assume the responsibility of trying to explain what Jesus is talking about.
Okay, what does Jesus mean when he tells us we must be like little children? Well, first, Jesus is certianly not telling us we must BE little children. We can be children, little or otherwise. If we can read this, we're not little children. More than likely, we're adults. One way or another, we no longer have the capacity to BE childlren. But, we can, and we must be LIKE children, like LITTLE children (think toddlers). And I believe the playwright Archiblad MacLeish captures what that means in his play "JB."
"JB" is wonderful. It's a play told in verse based on the Biblical story of Job. MacLeish's play is set in the 1950's. God and Satan are circus vendors, Zuss and Nickles. Nickles tells Zuss that no human would be good if his life were made bad enough. Sounds like the story of Job, doesn't it? Well, in the play, God (Zuss) tests millionaire American banker, JB, exactly the same way He tested Job approximately 2500 years ago. JB is stripped of his family and his wealth. JB suffers. Enormously! But, despite ups and mostly GOd-awful downs, JB retains his faith. JB looks at the world LIKE a "little child." No matter how rotten things get, JB looks upon the world with eyes of wonder. JB looks at every day as "new, fresh, and wonderful...a gift from God." JB applauds good days because they are good, but he also applauds horrific days because they are opportunities from God to spiritually grow.
JB's actions establish an important point. Only mature adults, like JB, can be LIKE little children. Little kids ARE little kids. They have no choice about it. Only adults can do what Jesus commands all of us to do and CHOOSE to be like little children. Little children are astounded by the world; everything is new to them. But only mature adults, (for whom very little is new) can CHOOSE to see every day as "new, fresh, and wonderful...a gift of God."
Now, I ask the zillion dollar questions. Do WE live like little children? Miss Audrey did.
Here's a modern parable based on a true story. Years ago, before I became a priest, I ministered to Miss Audrey while I was living in Nashville. She was ninety-four. Miss Audrey had outlived two husbands and two of her five children. She was crippled with very painful arthritis. One snowy day (cold exacerbated her arthritis), I showed up to give Miss Audrey Communion after she had learned of the death of a grandchild. What did she say? Well, she greeted me as she always did. Same big smile. Same words. "Hi Mike, it's another fabulous day. Isn't God wonderful?" Those were not just words. That's the way Miss Audrey chose to live.
Miss Audrey was neither naive nor senile. She was an intelligent, sophisticated and faith-filled woman who chose to live like a little child.
Let's you and I strike a deal. As much as we can, let's live like JB and Miss Audrey. Let's live like little children. Let's see every day as "new, fresh, and wonderful..a gift from God."