Thursday, November 4, 2010

We Must Think Like Children in Order to Learn from God

How does receiving the kingdom of heaven like little children change our thinking? Instead of starting with the assumption that what we already think we know is correct and reliable, we ought to start with putting our trust in God to teach us. A child has to be carefully guided by a parent in many ways every day in order to correct childlike misunderstandings and ideas that come from limited knowledge. Many things are simply beyond the child's understanding until the child grows older. So the child has to trust that the parent really knows what he or she is talking about. The child has to depend on the parent's knowledge as true and superior to what the child thinks.

If we honored God with this same sort of trust, then we would start with the conviction that what God tells us is correct and reliable. We would start by taking it as certain that what is written in the Bible is really true and accurate. If we really trust God as our Father and believe He tells us the truth, then we should be open to having our previous beliefs and convictions changed and refined by the more accurate and mature information in Scripture, instead of expecting Scripture to just fit in with what we already "know."

This is the way the fathers of the Church thought of it. Consider the way Paul talked to some of those he led: "But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh." (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). [That is, you are still thinking with a mind set on the flesh instead of a renewed mind.] And the author of Hebrews said: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." (Hebrews 5:12-14). We are genuinely children in our relationship to God, and it is vanity for us to think of ourselves as anything else.

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