In Matthew 18, the Lord’s quarreling followers asked Him, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” The Lord beckoned to a little child, whom He placed among the disciples. “Assuredly, I say to you,” Jesus said, “unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (verses 3-5).
The next chapter adds a footnote: “Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them” (Matthew 19:13-15).
The Gospels are full of children, and the Bible teaches us to emulate the wonder, faith, fascination and simplicity of a childlike heart. We’re not to be childish in our thinking, for the Bible enjoins maturity and wisdom; but we’re to be childlike in our spirits. That means knowing how to slow down, see the world around us, be present with a sense of wonder, and be awestruck with the greatness of our Heavenly Father—and the smallness of some of His blessings.
This means we must recover the simplicity of worship. I’m not talking about the order or rituals of the worship service you attend, but about the sense of wonder that should grip our hearts when we think of God. When people lose faith in a Creator, the creation itself simply becomes a grid to study before we die. But from the beginning, God intended for us to look into the starry skies and contemplate His greatness. He intended for us to look at the flowers of the field and contemplate His beauty. He intended for us to look at the birds of the air and contemplate His care. And He intended for us to look into His Word and contemplate His grace. Our secular world has lost the sense of wonder.
When our hearts are full of worship, it’s much simpler to exercise childlike faith. As we grow and mature, often we complicate matters of faith, turning our walk with God into a formula, and we lose the childlike wonder we once demonstrated when approaching Jesus.
I know that life doesn’t seem so simple; but it’s truly a simple thing to trust in a wise Savior and to rely on His unchanging Word. Proverbs 3 says simply, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (verse 5). The writer of Psalm 131 says: “Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.”
I’m sure you know what it’s like to trust the Lord with various situations over which you had no control. Sometimes when anxiety is great within us, we can either lose our minds or quiet our hearts. We must learn to be present enough to listen to our inner child and to trust the Lord like a baby resting in his mother’s arms.
Simply trusting, that is all.
As we simplify our worship and our faith, we’ll automatically learn to simplify our lives. Much of what’s around us is small, for the same God who created the gargantuan whales also made the tiny minnows and slippery tadpoles. We can’t all travel into outer space, but we can all hear the sound of the crickets at night or behold tulips bursting through the ground at the park. There’s just as much joy in the small as in the large.
Learn to simplify. Don’t overcomplicate your faith and your relationship with Jesus. Pay attention to the small things. Remove the clutter from your mind, and be grateful for simplicity. Be present enough to relish the grace of everyday blessings. Let your worship be filled with wonder, your faith overflowing with sincerity, and your life attuned to the splendor of the ordinary.
David Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif.
– Baptist Press