Young children are, and quite naturally so, centered on themselves from the very first moment; how could they not be? Yet we expect them to move at a fairly rapid pace away from being self-centered and to become progressively other-centered: we push them to grow in politeness, kindness, sharing, and generosity as well as in more abstruse ways of caring more for others than about themselves. Is this strong bias towards constant growth what the Lord is after when He speaks of the "merest children" here?
Young children also have a great innocence in terms of nearly everything, but as they grow they acquire experience and a certain distrust of accepting any person or any thing as simply what they seem to be. Is this innocence what we are to yearn for and to work for in regard to God? to trust His word absolutely and not try to analyze and second-guess what He has revealed?
I suspect that it is a combination of the two. I believe that we must be eager for growth, for a greater maturity and understanding of who and what we are, even though this involves making mistakes --- since mistakes are the way we learn wisdom not in our heads but in our very bones. But it is not merely a matter of understanding: we must actually and continually try to put our progressive desires and partial understandings into practice.
At the same time we must also have an innocent trust in God's love for us, trust in the discipline of His laws, and an acceptance of personal loss, of times of loneliness, and of our personal inadequacy. These less than attractive parts of our lives are an emptiness that God alone can fill, one that turns us constantly towards Him --- not in our wealth but in our smallness and poverty.
All of this was already part of our becoming big boys and girls when we were just starting our lives as "mere children."
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook