This photo is not faked. It shows a real shepherd…
What an image! What a thought. God laughing with childlike delight?
Could it be? Is it possible?
Does it even matter what God is like?
It sure does. According to Jesus, knowing God is the essence of eternal life:
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3, NIV)
You may wonder, is it even possible to know God?
Yes, it’s 100% possible to know God, thanks to what we SEE Jesus do (in scripture), HEAR Jesus teach (in scripture), and EXPERIENCE (in our heart and mind) through the eye-opening, astonishingly real communications and inner visions of the Holy Spirit to our souls.
No, It’s Not Crazy
It turns out that it’s not at all crazy to think of God as a child.
Of course, there’s a great difference between being childish and childlike.
- Childish always refers to the negative aspects of a child: immature, impulsive, stubborn, attention-seeking, emotionally disruptive, etc.
- Childlike always refers to the positive aspects of a child: innocent, simple, humble, trusting, and full of energy, enthusism and joy in life.
(See excellent article on this topic here.)
King Jesus is both great battle captain and tender friend and parent. The humble, loving God, Himself as a child, teaches us what it means to be a true citizen of heaven.
What Did Jesus Say about Children?
Check out these touching scenes from the New Testament and ask yourself, “Could God really be like a child?”
Envision a group of parents with infants and small children pressing closer to see Jesus. His disciples, who appear to be managing the crowds, apparently think it would be troublesome for the Master to have to deal with children so they try to drive the young families away.
Jesus is not pleased and immediately corrects them. In effect, Jesus says, “Don’t stop them. It’s okay. Let them come to Me.” Let’s imagine this scene in detail:
The faces of the parents suddenly brighten as they hear the Master’s kindly word.
Perhaps He gestures with arms extended, welcoming, and waving them to come through the crowd. It’s unfortunate that the scriptures don’t comment on Jesus’ facial expressions.
It’s not written how tenderly he may have lifted a curly haired, wriggling little three-year old onto His knee or held a tiny infant in His arms, smiling as He spoke. But can we imagine otherwise?
Then He says something Wow:
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14, NKJV)
That’s quite a statement: “for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
In other words, this eternally happy, powerful place we call heaven is made up of beings with attributes like those children.
On another occasion, the Lord taught something similar but with even stronger language.
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-4, KJV)
Again, here’s quite a statement. We will not enter into heaven unless we become humble like a child and “converted” as a child.
In other words, we must be changed back into our childlike state in order to become a citizen of heaven.
Is it not reasonable to conclude that God Himself is also in a fully matured, yet childlike state of goodness? He is surely the “greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” is He not?
Why this Matters for You and Me
As in all things, Jesus is our example of what “good” and “mature” really look like in the eyes of God.
The “living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:51, KJV) paid attention to everyone, including sweet, helpless children.
All of us have times when the vulnerable, perhaps frightened child in us hungers for help from God. A little kindness. A real lift. Grace. A gift and a blessing to feel better or gain strength to do what feels impossible.
In these moments I like to remember this image: Jesus sitting next to me. I feel His arm around me as He pulls my shoulder to His. He loves the child in me. I feel secure and understood.
He is tender and compassionate to the vulnerable, struggling me. This feeds my emotional soul, my very spirit.
He is both great battle captain and tender friend and parent. The humble, loving God, Himself as a child, teaches me what it means to be a true citizen of heaven.
The humble, loving God, Himself as a child, teaches me what it means to be a true citizen of heaven.
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