the child in the midst

“As the disciples disputed among themselves who would be the greatest, Jesus answered, “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me” (Mark 9:33-37)

Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3)

These verses have been a puzzler to me. My children and those that I know, are not what you would call humble, paragons of virtue to be emulated. As I share here, I find George MacDonald’s insights thought provoking and stimulating. Any misinterpre-tation rests squarely on my shoulders.

> The setting is Capernaum, and possibly the child Jesus held was Peter’s, “a child therefore with some of the characteristics of Peter, whose very faults were those of a childish nature.”  So we see the Son of Man picked out a common child, not a most beautiful one, just as He came to those with flaws, those who needed Him most, the stubborn, infirm, deformed, lost.  

> Children are made in the image of God and no habit or content of a child’s heart can make him or her cease being a child. Thus, in receiving the offspring of God, we receive the Father.

> Perhaps the lesson is in the perception of “childhood.” For example, spiritual childhood, as in our first attractions to the Father. In receiving a child in the name of Christ, we open our arms to spiritual humanity. Perhaps Jesus is teaching us to love our neighbor, all humanity, the wretched, woe-begone, outcast.  

> Let’s consider Jesus, who as the son of his Father, radiated “serenity of faith in his Father.” With God represented in Jesus, Jesus can be seen as childlike in obedience to his Father. We do have to remember, “our Lord became flesh, but He did not become man,” he took the form of man. “He was, is, and ever shall be divinely childlike.”

> The ideal child takes his father’s hand, trusts, and loves him.  As children of God, our Father is our friend, more than friend, He is father and mother, our infinite love-perfect God.

> “The God who is ever uttering himself in the changeful profusions of nature; who takes millions of years to form a soul that shall understand him and be blessed; who never needs to be, and never is, in haste; who welcomes the simplest thought of truth or beauty as the return for the seed he has sown upon the fallows of eternity, who rejoices in the response of a faltering moment to the age-long cry of his wisdom in the streets; the God of music, of painting, of building, the Lord of Hosts, the God of mountains and oceans; whose laws go forth from one unseen point of wisdom and thither return without an atom of loss; the God of history working in time unto christianity.”

> This God is the God of little children, and a perfectly devoted Father to humans of all ages. “The perfection of his relation to us swallows up all our imperfections, all our defects, all our evils; for our childhood is born of his fatherhood.” We say, Our Father, “We do not draw back for that we are unworthy, nor even for that we are hard-hearted and care not for the good.”

As we shine light through our lives, let us remember that in some things, we and others are still childlike in understanding and actions. With humility and the backing of our heavenly Father, may we strive to spread His unconditional love.
Unspoken Sermons (George MacDonald)

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