LIKE A LITTLE CHILD

by David Sisler

Home Alone, is a movie which was tremendously successful, both at the box office and in video rental. It is about Kevin, a young boy, who is mistakenly left at home when his family travels to France. Burglars casing the neighborhood, mark Kevin's house as an easy target. Kevin is first overjoyed to be left home alone, but later becomes afraid when the robbers attempt to break in. One reason the film was so appealing was the ease with which audiences identified with Kevin's fears.

A foundation for child development did in-depth interviews with 2,000 children between the ages of seven and eleven years. They learned that 66 percent of them live in fear that somebody bad might get into their house. 25 percent of them live in the fear that someone will hurt them if they go outside to play.

A separate research project found something present in the minds of teenagers that was missing in the younger children. The idyllic, carefree days of youth is being pushed out by a gritty, unfriendly society. Teenagers are becoming cynical.

The word "cynic" literally means, "a snarling dog." The word comes from a society in ancient Greece called the "School of Cynics." They were virtuous men who were unconcerned with anyone but themselves. They didn't believe anyone else was worth listening to. They began to see only bad in other people and good only in themselves. They really were "Home Alone."

Against such a background Jesus told a crowd of listeners, "You must change and become like little children." Some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could touch them. His disciples tried to keep them away. Jesus reacted with an emotion akin to grief. He was outraged and indignant.

"Don't stop them!" Jesus said. "The kingdom of God belongs to people who are like these little children. I tell you the truth. You must accept the kingdom of God as a little child accepts things, or you will never enter it."

What did Jesus mean? Just who, or what, is a little child?

Children dare to look beyond themselves.

The "hang-a-millstone-around-your-neck-and-be-cast-into-the-sea" award goes to an elementary school teacher. A boy drew a picture of a bird and then colored the bird purple. Across the top the teacher wrote, "Birds are not purple. Please do over."

It is a trusting, adventuresome, spontaneous spirit that says, "Birds are too purple!" It was that spirit which caused Mary to take a box of perfume which cost one year's wages think how much she must have wanted that perfume and how long she'd saved to be able to buy it and instead of using it for herself, she broke the container and poured all the perfume on Jesus. Her child-like action so pleased Jesus, He said, "People will always remember Mary because she did this."

Children risk loving.

Six year old Debbie had a pet gold fish named Spanky. She never tired of watching him swim. She told him her secrets. Spanky was her best friend. One day Debbie asked her mother, "Do fish sleep?" Spanky was lying on his side at the bottom of the bowl. She cried long and hard and then said, "At least I had him for a little while."

Debbie learned it is risky to love, but worth the risk. It is risky to love a God who expects first place in our lives, but the worth is forever.

A child is full of wonder.

A kindergarten teacher was dragged to the window by one of her students. Together they scrutinized the belly of a caterpillar flowing past. Other children quickly gathered and pressed their noses against the pane, watching with hushed amazement. One of the little ones broke the silence with an exclamation of wonder: "Wow!"

Children see things most adults never do.

Their observations stretch our imaginations. How high is the sky? Why do dogs wag their tails? How does a leaf know it's time to change colors? What was here before God made the world? Do you mean if I believe that Jesus died for me I'll live forever? Wow!

-30-


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Copyright 2001 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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