One of the covenant children in my church is a sweet little girl who has Down Syndrome. Recently, Vera burst into the fellowship hall where I was talking to her grandmother. She tugged at grandma to get her attention so that she could share what she had just learned in Sunday school.
Vera had a coloring sheet showing two groups of men in long robes. One group had sad faces and she explained that these men did not know Jesus. The other group was smiling. Vera enthusiastically announced that these men knew Jesus and she did too. She just had to share the good news she had learned from her Sunday school teacher.
A Simple, Child-Like Faith
My church is also blessed to have gifted teaching elders who lead our adult Sunday school. Each week we have well prepared, insightful, and challenging lessons. On this particular week, we were studying the Heidelberg Catechism, working through the answer to Question 60: “How are you right with God?” We spent our time learning the differences between Augustine’s and Pelagius’ views on our sinful nature vs. free will, understanding the reformer’s perspective on the Roman Catholic’s view of synergism, and wresting with how it is we can be expected to live according to the law when we don’t have the ability to do so. It was a heavy session that stretched us, maturing our thinking on the subject.
After listening to little Vera share what she had learned in Sunday school, I could not help but think how right she was with God. She had listened carefully to her lesson (God bless that Sunday school teacher for her clarity!), she accepted what she learned about Jesus with a believing heart, and she felt the need to share what she knew with those she loved. Vera demonstrated her childlike faith by trusting what her teacher had taught her. Her teacher undoubtedly put in many hours nurturing that relationship through listening with love and compassion. Learning to trust the adults in their lives is a first step for children learning to trust our heavenly father. Vera also exuberated joy. A child’s joy is not based on their circumstances or material possessions, but on being with the people who love them. Vera clearly felt loved by her teacher, and in response could not contain herself from sharing her joy with someone else whom she loved and who loved her, her grandmother.
Vera’s knowledge of biblical facts was limited, but she was salt and light in that moment. As adults, we are often preoccupied in our minds, come to class with preconceived notions, and are not always bold enough to share what we know about Christ with our friends and family. Vera believes the good news without complication, taking to heart God’s Word in all its simplicity.
Become Like Little Children
The answer to Heidelberg Catechism Question 60, “How are you right with God?” is a simple one: “Only by true faith in Jesus Christ . . . All I need to do is accept this gift of God with a believing heart.” By accepting God’s gift, we become right with God, submitting to His authority. In Matthew 18:3, we read Jesus’ words, in response to the disciples arguing over who would be the greatest in heaven. “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” To be childlike is to be humble, dependent and teachable. Jesus rebuked the disciples because their state of mind was self-seeking and conceited. Being childlike is just the opposite, free from pride, ambition and covetousness. Vera totally accepted the truth about Jesus, honoring Him by sharing what she learned with others.
How often do we exhibit the same attitudes the disciples had at that moment? We think of ourselves as far more important than we are, comparing our lot in life to others, foregoing the role of servant for an esteemed position. We far prefer our own ambitions to taking our proper position before the Lord. Only in letting go of our pride can we become childlike in our attitude, remembering that he who wants to be first will be last of all. It is easy to see why our Lord took notice of children and used them as examples to instruct the disciples about regard for even the weakest believers. Matthew 19:14 reminds us, “But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Little Vera may have developmental challenges, but she has a firm grasp on the truth. She accepts God’s gift with a believing heart. Her example of childlike faith is one that all of us should follow.
About the Author:
Sharon is recently retired from a career first as a chemist and then as a regulatory affairs consultant to the medical device industry. She has served on the women’s ministry team at Grace Presbyterian Church in her home town of Yorba Linda, California, and has worked as the west coast regional advisor for the PCA. Her husband, two married daughters and two married sons are all engineers, who provide interesting technical conversations for a dinner table. Sharon is working on completing her bucket list which includes raising orchids, attending culinary school, bird watching and traveling. She has two baby granddaughters and is looking forward to the third coming soon.