Saturday, January 13, 2007

Theological question

I have been pondering over this verse for a few days now. As someone pastorally involved with children, it's obviously a verse that drives me. But I have been applying some of the theological questioning that I am being taught to some of the values and visions that I have in my work; which I share with my teams:

Matthew 18:2-3
Jesus called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Here are some of the questions I am revisiting:

Why are we told that Jesus called a little child? How little is little in NT times?
He said "unless you change". What attitudes do we need to change?
How can we become like little children? Clearly we can't do it physically; we are all "grow-d up".
And for me, the cruncher - what did Jesus mean when he said "you will never enter the kingdom of heaven"?

I don't happen to believe that verse 3 is just about having a place in heaven when we die.

I could post more about my thoughts here but I would really like to reflect on others' opinions. However, I will say that academic studies on children's spirituality have enlightened me; particularly on the capacity of children to use their senses to have awe and wonder and "see" the kingdom (.....coming?) in a way that we can't; where we place logic and reason and "ahhhhh, buts" and fear and discomfort.

Enough Lynn! What are your views on my questions?


  1. Great questions. I think that it's all about who we are in life. Children tend to be more trusting of their parents, see the world as full of possibilities and wonder, believe that anything is possible, etc.

    I think that Jesus is saying we're to have these qualities as we look to God and life.

  2. Lynn, for me the first place I would look for answers would be not in terms of the psychology or even characteristics of children - but in terms of their socio-cultural-religous status at the time of Jesus.

    In so far as they had liitle to no status in terms of the controlling powers - is Jesus saying here that we too need to be prepared to lay down our status and live dependant on trust and faith. I guess this is a somewhat socio-political reading of that passage. In my defence, in that the way of the child was the way to the kingdom - was Jesus not in fact the ultimate child as he allowed himself - to be led, gave up his position, laid it down etc. to vulnerability with a trust in God?

    Slightly different way of coming at it.

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  5. heh heh, it looks like I have been doing some audacious censoring of posts.

    I've only deleted my own comments because I can't spell.

    I was trying to say: I wonder why children are explicitly referred to rather than women, or slaves; other oppressed to look at some commentaries!


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