I’ve reached the half way point in my third journey. The half way point of Barefoot Disciple is a chapter entitled ‘Childlike Maturity’.
Stephen Cherry begins the chapter by referring to a book called Adults as Children by James Francis. In the book Francis argues that for Jesus, childhood was a vital metaphor for discipleship. That our character and identity has been renewed by our identity as children of God. The freedom, renewal, hope and adventure that brings is both profound and creates a great opportunity to life life and see things in a new and fresh way, the way that a child so often, so helpfully sees things.
Linked to this is the important pursuit of maturity. Cherry highlights the significant difference between ‘childlikeness’ and ‘childishness’. Its important (As Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 13) that as we grow and develop we set aside childishness. But equally as Jesus has clearly said, as we grow we need to retain and value a childlike quality of openness, freshness and humility. The qualities of trust and humility are vital. Stephen Cherry states“Christian maturity and humility is found in a personality reshaped and renewed by relationship with God.” These qualities are so vital but often so hard to nurture or desire. Cherry challenges us that our pursuit of power and many other things that should arguably challenge us to think more deeply about what Jesus might mean by encouraging us to seek his kingdom ‘as children’
As a parent it is a very deep, joyful and profound experience to share in the life of my children. The regular comedy, energy, questions, innocence, exploration and adventure that they bring is so refreshing! It is also profound that my children trust me and look to me and my wife for guidance, assurance, love and acceptance.
So the question I am keen to keep asking is not so much, How can I teach my Children about God? (It is a good question and I am still wrestling with and certainly keen to explore it more and live it out) but actually What is it that my Children can teach me about God?
I’m certainly not decrying the importance of wisdom, experience and maturity in terms of age. I am grateful to family, friends, colleagues, leaders and mentors who genuinely and helpfully bring that into my life. But I am drawn to the idea of childlike maturity. Openness, exploring, asking questions and approaching life with a significant slice of trust and humility combined with honesty and wisdom that avoid both naivety and cynicism.