At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."
And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad—they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it. But as for you, turn around and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.”
God holds a special place in his heart for children, it seems. They are promised blessings, even as their parents are judged. But why is this? Why should children, who don't know good from bad, be promised the kingdom, while their parents are sent away?
I think it's because God knows that children still understand the "What-ifs" of life.
The older we get, the more education we have, the more we think we have all of the answers. We aren't teachable. We become arrogant. I see this in the modern church, and I think God saw it in ancient Israel, and in the Jewish Pharisees, and sometimes even in the disciples.
There is an atmosphere in the church these days that pastors, teachers, and elders are always right. That they know everything. That there are no more mysteries or questions. Only pat answers.
Children don't think like this. Children have myriads of questions. They look at things with open eyes and open minds. Not through a cloud of dogma. And sometimes they see things that older people don't.
It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
I think we are in the days that Joel spoke about. But we are missing it. We are so caught up in what we "know" that we can't learn. We aren't leaving room for prophecy, visions, and dreams. The church is stagnant. It is dying, because it is without imagination.
We tend to ignore scientists because we believe they are against God. But God made this world, and he gave people the drive to find out about it. No other species on this earth seems to be concerned about who they are, where they came from, or where they are going. They have done things the same way through all of the years of their existence. Lions have always acted like lions, and apes have always acted like apes. If their environment changes too much, they become extinct, like the dinosaurs did. But not humans. We have continued to adapt. We are naturally weak, and are not suited to a whole lot of environments, but have instead managed to change our environments to accommodate us. We have invented clothes, shelters, and ways of getting food, depending on where we live. We can live in the arctic tundra, or the Sahara desert, by modifying the things around us. No other creatures can do these things!
This ability to adapt our environment, rather than ourselves, has allowed us to expand and cover the globe. But our spirituality has stayed in one place.
I believe that the Bible is true. But I don't believe it contains all the truth that's in the world. I believe God created the world, but I am wary of anyone who says they know that it happened in a specific amount of time and in a specific way, regardless of if they are a preacher or a scientist. Not one of them was there. Scientific thought is changing all of the time, as more and more things are discovered. And the creation story in the Bible, while beautiful, is not very specific. I am also wary of anyone who professes to know how or when the earth will end. Only God knows that. I think we are missing the mark. I think God gave men brains that ask questions. And I think that he expects us to keep asking. Pretending that we know everything we need to know is just arrogance.
And I think we need to listen to our children. It is too easy to "pull rank" on them and tell them what to believe. But that's not doing them, or us, any favors. We are just pushing them down into the same tired mold that we came out of. Joel spoke of sons, daughters, and young men. They are our future, and the future of our faith. The Word of God is not stagnant, nor is it set in stone. We call the Bible a Living document, but do we believe it? Can we accept that God may be giving our children visions that we haven't yet seen, and prophesies that we haven't yet heard? Can they be seeing things with new eyes that are unclouded by the doctrines of tradition? And can we learn to do the same? I think our future depends on it.