Ever notice how young children seem to get along pretty well…at least relative to us adults? Sure, they may argue over a toy, but they still play together. They’re not very prejudice or selective among each other. Even children of different cultures who speak different languages manage to interact fairly well with each other. Perhaps I’m wrong, but this seems to be the case with a lot children I’ve seen. But as adults, we avoid one another, talk behind each others’ backs, hate each other, and even kill each other. Why is this? I’m sure there is an arrangement of reasons, but two come to my mind.
Young Children are unaware of their sinfulness.
As adults, we know we’re messed up. Deep down we know there is something wrong with ourselves. Young children haven’t realized this about themselves yet. They do not know shame or guilt. Why do you think so many babies or children are ok with just running around naked? No shame! I’m only half-kidding about that. The fact is that as we mature in our understanding of ourselves, the world around us, and others, we change. It’s as if our minds’ opening to reality leads to our knowledge of God, which is accompanied with our realization of our condition compared to God (Romans 1). In some way it is discovering ‘right vs. wrong’, but more accurately it is discovering ‘me vs. God’. The same shame and guilt that Adam and Eve experienced when God first approached them in their nakedness after they sinned, is the same shame and guilt that we experience in relation to God. This knowledge of our sinfulness changes us and our interaction with each other. In response to our guilt and shame…we put others down to feel better about ourselves…we are jealous of others because they don’t seem as bad as us…we won’t interact with others because they might make us look bad…the list goes on and on. Like we hide from God, we hide from others. Without the guilt and shame that accompany the knowledge of our sinfulness, young children see themselves as ok and others as ok.
Young children are secure in a greater love.
Most children have a source of love. Often this comes from their parents, but may come from another relative or adult. Often, adults are too insecure with themselves to confidently and comfortably interact with other adults. Nothing changes from the peer pressure we experienced in school – adults can just escape the situations easier than a middle school or high school student can. All adults still care what everyone else thinks about them. We’re typically either trying to please others or put others down, for the same result – to find security in something. We can find security in their approval of us. And we can find security in feeling more important than others. These false, temporary securities never satisfy us. We need something far greater. We need to know that we are loved perfectly. Most young children tend to believe that their parents, relative, or guardian love them perfectly. Thus they are not insecure about themselves. They are secure in a love that is greater than themselves, that they believe loves them perfectly and unconditionally. The love of a parent pales in comparison to the truly perfect and unconditional love of Jesus Christ.
So what do we do now, knowing the guilt of our sinfulness and living with a seemingly insatiable insecurity? Embrace the death and resurrection of Christ. Christ’s death cleared us from the penalty and guilt of our sin. Under Christ’s blood you are holy and blameless before a pure and just God. Christ took on our shame and guilt so we no longer have to. And in this same act of Christ sacrificing Himself for us, is the greatest display of love possible – that God would die for man. In Him, is our security. He offers us the greatest, perfect, lasting, unconditional love. So as His adopted children we can call him “Abba Father!”