"...I'm telling you, once for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child will rank high in God's kingdom" Matt. 18:3-4.
Have you ever been engaged by a child in a circular discussion? They ask a question and you give your best kid-friendly response. Situation resolved. Not so fast.
"Why?" your inquisitor asks. You attempt to satisfy their curiosity but once again you fail.
"Why?" they demand. Now you're hopelessly stuck in a loop.
The conversation could go on forever fueled by the child's inquisitive nature. It's how they learn. They explore the world relentlessly, often without fear of the unknown. Once verbal skills develop the onslaught of questions begins. Rather then shut them down, adults usually will do their best to accommodate their quest to understand. However the time often comes when the only answers are: "Because I said so." or "You'll understand when you get older."
The subject of a recent lecture was C. S. Lewis' fascination with the imagination and his use of it in his writing. People have erroneously attributed his works of fiction to veiled presentations of the gospel; sort of a way to sneak it in when no one's suspecting. The presenter, however, said Lewis' purpose was the exact opposite. He wrote to engage his reader's imagination and somehow the gospel would slip in by accident.
Those familiar with the Narnia series remember the saga starts with the forced evacuation of some children to their elderly relative's country manor. Once there the siblings found it the perfect place for exploration. Systematically they combed through the house which ultimately led them to the wardrobe. Once inside they discovered the portal to Narnia and like true adventurers, they entered in.
Asking lots of questions, taking chances without thought of danger is what kids do naturally. The lecturer believes that if Lewis were asked for his interpretation of childlikeness in Matthew 8, he would say it was to be inquisitive, curious and imaginative.
This isn't always appreciated. Another speaker told of being one of those kids who constantly was thinking and asking questions. His grandmother was convinced that he was the family idiot and would be dependent on the largesse of his family for support. He now has a Ph.D.
Once, at the close of a mid-week service, this boy did the unthinkable. The minister customarily closed with the rhetorical statement, "Well if there aren't any questions..."
Quickly the boy's hand shot up. "You could have heard a pin drop," he said. "The air was sucked out of the room." Everyone knew this was their cue to leave and not an invitation to quiz the pastor. By the way, he never did get to ask what was on his mind.
Too often in Christian circles questions are discouraged. Doing so could make you lose your faith you know. Even worse, you could reject some dearly held doctrine that may or may not be scripturally sound. Perish that thought.
To Jesus, when it came to sincere seekers of truth, there was no such thing as a stupid question. If Lewis is correct, being childlike is permission to ask questions, investigate and explore what to believe for ourselves. If we believe God's power to keep us from getting off into a ditch is greater than satan's to deceive, we should be like kids. Ask away.
How about you? When was the last time, if ever, you asked God to weigh in on what you believe about Him, how He works, what He likes/dislikes? Have you felt conflicted when your reading or studying turns up something that contradicts conventional beliefs? How do you resolve the dissonance? Do you think God prefers we blindly conform with out question or have a face-to-face discussion with Him? Are you willing to explore being a kid again?