Children are the future, and if you are an Indian parent, possibly a prospect of realising unfulfilled dreams. However, one shouldn’t sidestep the significance of childhood. Contrary to popular thinking in his time, Jesus upheld the importance of children and unpretentious childhood.
Children were not to be seen as merely premature adults. In fact, one afternoon, weary after a journey, Jesus’ disciples turned away a group of eager parents who brought their children to be blessed by Jesus. On hearing about this, Jesus sharply reprimanded his disciples. He was not a regular rabbi – busy with adult matters, with no time for little people. Poignantly, Jesus rises to the level of maturity in recognising the significance of children. They were not to be left out in his brand of spirituality.
While children are taught to grow up and be responsible like adults, Jesus did the exact reverse. During an informal leadership class, he showcased a child to make this point. He categorically announced: ‘Unless you become like this little child, you will not enter the kingdom of God’. In a way, grown-ups have to ‘grow up’ to be like a child. Understandably, he is not asking adults to be childish, but rather child-like.
Age is not a barrier to spirituality. John, a cousin of Jesus while still in his mother’s womb, had a spiritual experience. While a child may not be able to articulate the spiritual experience rationally, there is indeed a genuine involvement, nonetheless. Little surprise then, that the Bible says – ‘From the lips of children and infants you have received praise’.
The divine example
While Jesus came into the world to save humanity from wickedness, it is intriguing, though that the Saviour became like one of us, as a zygote (after a supernatural conception), a helpless baby and a toddler. He also went through the growing-up years – the tweens, teens, and the twenties. Isn’t it interesting that he did not jump the gun and become an adult overnight? He further subverted human expectations by not manifesting as a child prodigy with spectacular powers. He lived like any other Jewish boy of his time – staying at home for about 30 years before starting his public life. His ‘ordinary’ life thus accentuates the value of an authentic childhood experience.
May we all develop child-like traits such as humility, a sense of humour, hope, honesty, happiness, hunger for truth and more. As someone said: ‘the Son of God became a son of man, so that sons and daughters of humans might become children of God’.
Happy Children’s Day!