Enjoying Jesus Like a Child
In chapel each week, we begin our worship together by lighting our Christ candle and praying together, “We are here to worship and enjoy Jesus. May our eyes, ears, and our hearts be open to God’s word.” Sometimes when I’m feeling cynical or a bit jaded, I find myself feeling that this prayer is a bit too simplistic. Consciously and subconsciously I’ve wondered “is following Jesus really that simple?” What does it mean to enjoy Jesus?
Who in your life do you truly enjoy? Your best friend? Your spouse? A child? What makes you enjoy that person? One of the people I enjoy intensely is my youngest son, Cayden. Cayden is my 5-year-old with Cerebral Palsy. It’s only in the past 6 months that he has been able to walk or talk. He has taught me so much about simple delight. When you walk in the room he lights up. He’s equally excited to see the moon, see a lit Christmas tree, or hear a song with a steady bass line. The most remarkable thing about Cayden’s delight is that it doesn’t seem to shift or be as conditional as mine. Cayden was hospitalized for the majority of his first year of life, and his delight, and enjoyment never wavered. He’s taught me so much about life, delight, and enjoyment. About unconditional love and joy.
As we grow away from being “a child,” we slowly and unintentionally train ourselves away from simple delight, from simple truths, from simple worship…we become far too much like the disciples who so desperately needed the approval of Jesus in Luke 9. In Luke 9, we see the disciples “arguing over which of them would be most famous.” Jesus responds, “When Jesus realized how much this mattered to them, he brought a child to his side. ‘Whoever accepts this child as if the child were me, accepts me,’ he said. ‘And whoever accepts me, accepts the One who sent me. You become great by accepting, not asserting. Your spirit, not your size, makes the difference.’”
The ways of Jesus are not only about accepting children, but of becoming like children (Mark 10:15)…relearning simplicity in joy, delight, and in being loved. As we grow “wiser” and more “mature,” we too often care far too much about production, affirmation, and success. These drives keep us from Jesus’ admonition to “be like a child.” On the contrary, when we receive Jesus’ way of being like a child, enjoying one another and Jesus, in such moments we catch a glimpse of God’s Kingdom here on earth, as we embrace our truest identity as God’s beloved children.
If you’re wired like me, you’re already wondering where the work comes in and feeling like this is still too simple. You and I both know that we are made to respond to this truth of God’s love. Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (John 14:23). This truth, this simple LOVE, that we receive from the Christ child, Jesus, is meant to be returned. So, yes…may our eyes, ears, and our hearts be open to God’s word. May we follow our maker down every path we are led. Most of all, may our obedience and following Jesus not come out of duty but out of our delight in the extravagant gift of Jesus himself. May the Spirit chip away our ‘adult’ facades of perfection and striving so that we might put on our child-selves in whom Jesus delights.
I’m so grateful for my children and for the preschoolers who daily show me how to receive and enjoy such great love. I don’t know about you, but I need these reminders daily.
May we know the deep love of our Father. And may we become like children in our worship and enjoyment of Jesus.