To Reach Young People, We Need to “Become Like Children”
by J Warner Wallace
My grandparents were young at heart. They were our role models growing up; the one example Susie and I had of an intact, godly married couple. But more than that, they “connected” with us many years before we would become married adults ourselves. Back when we were dating as teenagers, we would drive out to my grandparent’s home to spend a week with them, sitting around the dining room table talking over a meal or a playing a game of Rummikub. They were 45 years older, but you wouldn’t have known that if you were eavesdropping on our conversations. They were our grandparents, our mentors and our closest friends. Years later, now that both of them have gone home to be with God, Susie and I think about how blessed we were to have had Warner and Evelyn in our lives, even as we ponder what it means to be “young at heart”. We want to be like my grandparents so we can mentor our own grandchildren and reach the most critical demographic in the church: young Christians.
Jesus said an attitude of youthfulness was more than an option; it was a necessity for those who wanted to enter the kingdom of heaven:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-4)
What did Jesus mean here when He said we must “become like children” in order to enter the kingdom of heaven? It clearly had something to do with submission; Jesus immediately described the importance of humbling oneself in the very next line. As I examine this passage, I can’t help but think of my grandparents and their ability to connect with people more than four decades their junior. They had, in many ways, “become like children”; they possessed a humble nature that I’ve struggled to understand and describe over the years. I think I’ve isolated two features of this childlike humility that might be helpful for those of us who want to “become like children” so we too can mentor and guide the young Christians in our lives…
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