The Youth of Discipleship

Photo By: Cyndi Belken

“He called a child over, placed it in their midst,and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

-Matthew 18:2-3

The photo to the left is a photo of one of my youngest brothers, John Paul. One of the many endearing characteristics that he possesses is that he is not afraid to seek the truth. Whether he learns something by his own powers of apprehension or by asking someone that he thinks will have the answer, he wants to know. When he is given the answer, he is ready to trust it and guard it as the truth, even if it means arguing with another simply based on his trust that he has been entrusted with truth.

Though it would seem that this indicates a lack of knowledge on his part, as is natural to a young child, there is actually a piece of knowledge that he possesses that we so often forget- he is and needs to be seeking something. Not only is he seeking, but he is doing it in such a way that he is open to whatever he may find in his pursuit. He is comfortable in acknowledging that sometimes there are things that he cannot answer on his own- and he has to rely on others to apprehend: and he is quite satisfied with that.

This seems to have implication in what Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew. Allow me to repeat: “Amen I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Certainly, there is a certain way that this passage has to be applied- but it is much broader than what one may think. What Christ is calling us to with this passage is the curiosity and trust of a child. This requires an openness- or receptivity- to what God is drawing us to. We have to desire to know the truth- about God, about salvation, and about His plan for us to get there.

This looks easy on paper- but in practice, it requires much from us as Christians aspiring towards Eternal Life. It requires a death to the falsehood that can take root in our own thinking. It requires us to openly seek the Truth and to seek God- and to trust in what we are given. If my brother were to go about his daily exploits only relying on what he fabricated in his head, rather than trusting in what he is given both by his senses and by others, he would quickly become frustrated, because things will not line up.

There is a constant struggle- so it seems- in society today, in which reality is being misplaced by subjectivity, and it is never for the betterment of any particular person. In fact, it often causes serious harm. For example, let’s say my phone gives me a tornado warning notification. What am I to do with that? Am I going to place my trust in the National Weather Service’s qualification to warn me about potentially dangerous situations, or am I going to ignore them, simply because my own intuition is superior? We can quickly put ourselves in practical danger- and even moral danger- if we are not seeking with an open and trusting heart.

This is the message that Christ has for us- we are to openly seek God, and to seek our salvation. In that pursuit, there is no room for our own fabricated reality. We have been called, as children of God, to follow our Father. This requires docility, selflessness, openness, trust, and confidence- for we know that our Father has in mind a particular plan to each of us. We may not have all the answers- and we don’t need to. We are given this aid us to remain open to the One who knows them. It is a long and arduous pursuit- one that lasts a lifetime, as my brother is well aware already, but it is one that rewards for an infinitely longer time. It’s all built on what we have done from our first moments- seek.