Big or Little?
Do you remember the story of people bringing children to Jesus for Him to touch and bless them, and the disciples pompously shooing them away as though they were just a waste of space? Having well told off his disciples for not seeing the value of children, Jesus shocks everyone by saying that in fact children were ahead of the field and top in line “for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” He was commending the normal openness and receptivity of children, teaching that the Kingdom of God can only be received as a gift; it cannot be received by adult human effort, but can only be entered by those who know they are helpless, without status, claim or merit. Again, as Luke’s gospel in 18:17 says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
In other words, we can only come with the total dependence, full trust, frank openness and complete sincerity of a little child, one whose innocent trust, and desire to please has not yet been broken or squashed. Bit of a slap to our pride when we are so caught up with our image, our self-importance and learning and position, even if we only come one rung up from the cat! But we don’t want to become, or be seen, as “little” do we, we want to be “big”!
Next week we have the privilege of taking the funeral service for Beattie, who was the first person to discover Jesus and His love through OTCC, having first stumbled distraught into By The Way about 20 years ago. Not able to read or write, about to be evicted from her home, unable to manage the business of life, she came like a little child into the arms of Jesus, for Him to touch and bless. And thereby took hold of the kingdom of God. She remained a little child in His presence, expectant of His blessing, full of trust in His love, with a childlike faith that was simply wonderful. Over the next 16 years or so, until the Lewy Body Dementia imprisoned her mind and body, and slowly withdrew her from us, she was a joy; spontaneously affectionate, full of fun, without any guile or pretence and transparently open, enthusiastically joining in everything, delighting in animals and jigsaws and the outside and all the simple pleasures.
We will miss her, but what a wonderful example she’s given us of how to grab hold of and enter the kingdom of God, as an unrestrained child! May we never forget!