Parents and elementary school teachers often praise the wisdom of children. Each day, teachers see how easily children make friends, then take one another’s hand, and head off for the playground. Moms and dads are often surprised by the depth of their children’s prayers.
Kids seem to have a special connection with God. They know things adults seem to have forgotten and often reduce things to their simplest, most profound truth. That may be what Jesus had in mind when he welcomed children and blessed them. He told the adults around him that not only were children welcome, they were an example for the rest of us. In other words, we ought to listen to children.
We recently did just that. We asked a bunch of typical kids (who go to school, squabble with their siblings, and try to get out of eating their vegetables), questions about faith, life, and the church.
Their answers were profound.
United Methodist pastor the Rev. Jacob Armstrong had the privilege of interviewing the children.
“What we’ve been going for is something that’s not packaged, something that we didn’t create and feed to the kids,” Armstrong explains, “but just came out of their heart.”
“To see God’s love through the eyes of children is a wonderful experience,” adds Jennifer Rodia, Chief Communications Officer, United Methodist Communications.
We can learn a great deal about what it means to be a Christian through listening to children.
“You can see that God is real in children,” Rodia notices. “Sometimes as adults, we lose sight of the fact that God never leaves our side.”
The children showed us there are other things about God adults might forget. They imparted wisdom about love, serving others, friendship, and miracles. They taught about the meaning of Easter and Christmas. They explained how we could live into the church’s aspirational promise of “Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.”
When asked what it means to have an open heart, Lilly shares, “You’re open to love anybody that needs it, because a lot of people in this world need to be loved.”
“When people have an open mind,” Alisyn teaches, “the world could be a much different place, if everyone just gave each other a chance.”
“An open door,” Trip adds, “is going one step further and saying, ‘Oh yeah! Come on in!’”
What would our lives look like if we chose to love like Lilly says? What would the world be like if we welcomed others as Alisyn advises? What would the church be if we followed Trip’s tip and invited people to come on in? What if we all chose to live more childlike?
We believe it would change our lives, our communities, and our world. And we believe that together, through God’s love, it can happen.