Becoming Like Little Children

     Have you ever been watching baseball and had a verse of Scripture reinforced as true? … Oh…. Well I don’t think I’mthe one who’s weird…. It involves two incidents I saw last week. The first happened in a major league game. The Braves’ young phenom Ronald Acuña was just shredding Marlins pitching in their four-game series, leading off each of the first three games with a home run (including both games of a double-header). On the first pitch of the fourth game of the series, the Marlins pitcher hit Acuña with a 97mph fastball on the elbow. Now we don’t know the man’s heart, and he claims he didn’t do it on purpose, but let’s just say the circumstances are pretty suspicious. And there was no attempt by him to apologize to Acuña on the field, or even to ask if he was ok.

      A couple of days later I was watching the Little League World Series. A pitcher hit a batter in a situation where it was obvious that it was unintentional. And the first thing the pitcher did? He walked over and apologized and checked to see how the batter was doing.

      It reminded me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:3: “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”What is it about us that changes in our hearts between our “little league” years and adulthood? If you watch the games from Williamsport, you’ll often see the fielders for one team high five the guy who just homered against them as he’s circling the bases. In the big leagues, you get thrown at for daring to be good at what you do. Despite the occasional tears when they lose, it seems like the kids are much more mature than their adult cohorts.

      It’s not much different spiritually. As kids we have a deep trust of God, and it seems that we lose much of that trust in our teens and twenties. But Jesus said that the innocent nature of a child’s faith is something that we adults need to adopt.

      To be sure, children aren’t perfect when it comes to spiritual things. Anyone who’s had a two-year-old or has broken up fights in the back seat of the car on a long road trip knows that. But their simple trust in God to take care of their needs, and their ability to apologize, forgive, and move on are things that each of us needs to adopt.

      At the end of the Little League Classic game, played by big leaguers at the Williamsport minor league team’s stadium, the Mets and Phillies lined up and shook hands just like the little leaguers who were watching them with awe. Maybe they’ve rubbed off on them a little. Hopefully the faith of the children in our lives will rub off on us as well.

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