Luke 18:15-30               “Childish"


We all love being childish. Come on, you can admit it. When you all see the children playing in playroom here at church that you want to jump into the fray. You want to be part of the fun. That space is my favorite place here in the church because I get to act like a kid again. I get to draw with chalk, play with the toy ambulance, even pretend to cook a lunch on the stove.

            The conversations in that space are so sweet, too. There is no talk of war, the economy, or politics. When I am in there with the kids, we talk about bugs and how long the hair is on someone. Then we talk about “Well, maybe we should put a bug in her hair!”

            We love to remember the good times of being a child. I recall have great days of playing with the neighborhood kids. We would dig tunnels, make forts, and pretend so much fun. We had Tonka trucks and Lego bricks. We even had a little red wagon. Yet, I also remember being disciplined by my father. He was really quite the disciplinarian—perhaps a nice way to say that he erred on the side of being abusive. And, there were bullies in the school. I recall still the times that I had to report to the school nurse with a bloody nose after having been slugged. I remember being hugged by mother after being picked up from school after a fight. She would somehow make it all better again. I often today think how wonderful it would be just to feel a hug from my mother again.

            Jesus says we have to become as children to enter the Kingdom of God. How does that work? What does that mean? I know that we read a lot from the Bible this morning that goes beyond this idea, but this one thought has stuck mostly to the inside of my brain.


            The first thing that came to me was the notion of just trusting. David Hanashiro mentioned, actually he kind of acted it out, how is grandson just thinks he can fly. So, with reckless abandon he jumps into the air with total trust that grandpa is going to catch him and swing him around. He pretends he has wings and just launches himself off. Wouldn’t it great to have that level of trust again?

            As you all are aware, my Uncle Olaf passed unto the Lord recently. When I got word from my aunt of his passing, I wrote to her that he is now soaring with God on eagles wings. This is from Isaiah 40:31, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. . . ." My aunt responded, “I hope it is as you say."

            If you ever saw the movie Nacho Libre you will remember the scene in which Nacho is climbing up the steep ocean cliff to get the eagle’s eggs. He cracks one opens and eats the yoke that is all over his face as he spreads his arms and dives off the cliff into the ocean. He really believes he has the eagle’s powers. Of course, he loses the next wrestling match. He then realizes that he one cannot get the power of an eagle from eating eggs. In the end of the movie, however, he dedicates his winning the prize money to help the orphans. He wrestles for God, instead of against God. He wins! In the end of the match we see him actually flying out of the wrestling ring to clobber his opponent. He has his eagles’ wings. How about you? Do you trust that you can fly to God?

            Last week we had Georgette’s grandniece here with us. She is only a year and a half, but she was just running around. I mentioned how it was that she had found her feet very quickly after crawling. But, faith is not about finding your feet. Faith is about finding you can fly.


            So, another thing about being a child is that you enjoy an incredible sense of wonder. I remember how I used to be so thrilled to see new animals and plants that I had never seen before. “Oh look, what a cute looking snake that has a little rattle on its tail! Daddy, can we keep it?” Wow, what happens when you put other things besides electrical plugs into the wall sockets? When I was growing up, heavy blue eyeshadow was the in thing. I remember looking at one woman and thinking “What is her Halloween costume supposed to be?” Or, maybe you remember when you were with your granddad and had to ask him, “What is all that hair in your nose?” Then, grandfather warns you that you will not always be six years’ old. “How old am I going to be?”

            Have you noticed that that sense of wonder is now missing in your life? That is because you are not looking at the Kingdom of God like a child would. Go ahead, ask the question: “Will I have nostril hair in the eternal life with Jesus?” Instead of dreading the pain of this existence, why not live in the wonder of being a child of God!? Will I actually see God one day? What will God look like?

            One of the greatest wonders of being a child is the development of the self. The famous psychologist Karl Jung called this the development of the id, ego, and super ego. We wonder about ourselves and who we are. Maybe being a child to enter the Kingdom means letting go of the super ego that has been developed over time. Will you have an ego in heaven? What will your name be? How will people call to you? Maybe you will just be an “id,” so to speak.

            When I was a child, I rejected both of my given names. I would not use my first or my middle name but rather came up with a name for myself. I called myself “Otti.” It was just a nickname until around the third grade when all the adults in my life insisted on calling me by one of my official names on the birth certificate. To this day, I wonder how I came to give myself my own name. Will that happen in the Kingdom of God? Will I get to rename myself, give myself a name that I feel is me? Or, does God have a completely different name for me that I will learn when I get there? If you see me in heaven, I might have changed my name back to Otti. Maybe I will have a completely new name–Robert Redford or maybe Brad Pitt.


            We have discussed child-like trust and wonder. What is also childlike that we need for the Kingdom? I have to refer to what might be for some the most difficult part. The text in the Bible says that when the people brought the children to Jesus, he TOUCHED them. You see, this would run afoul of our church’s insurance program child protection policy guidelines. One should not ever touch a child, right? Yet, this is what Jesus is doing. He never got the memo.

            Why were the parents allowing this stranger to touch their offspring? This may have had to do with the idea that children were vulnerable back then, more so than today. The infant mortality rate was very high. Archeologists when they unearth ancient graveyards that as much as 70% of the skeletons are of children. When we read that parents brought their children to Jesus in that time, and he touched them, that the children were being given a touch of protection, a touch of hope, a touch of healing.

            Have you allowed Jesus to touch your life, heal your wounds, give you hope? Or, are you in that “no touch” mode that we mostly find ourselves in today? If you are going to be a child of Christ, then you must be vulnerable again.

            In all my time on the planet, and most of that as a pastor, I have never heard what I am about to say preached before. I imagine I am not so unique in this–after all there is nothing new under the sun. Right? Listen: Have you ever allowed yourself to have someone else bring you to God? In this story today, we do not see all the little children just running up and swarming Jesus. What we see is that people who know better for their own progeny are delivering them to Christ. The parents are bringing the children to be touched by Christ. So, if we are to become like children in order to enter the Kingdom of God, then we are allowing someone else to bring us to be touched by Christ!

            I think that most of us here today could probably name outright that person who cared enough about you to bring you to be touched by Christ. In your mind right now maybe you can name that person. You do not have do it outloud. “My life was touched by Christ because of ______” Very often that is our parents. I can say that my mother and father brought me to church, but I am not sure they actually brought me to be touched by Christ. I am sure you all understand the difference. Yes, I was baptized in a Lutheran church, but Christ really touched my life a lot later.

            I have an acquaintance here in Waimea who was telling me about his Mexican heritage, but confessed that he did not know much about it. I gave him then my three volume set of “The Conquest of Mexico” by Prescott, which is the English translation of La Historia de Nueva Espana by Bernal Diaz. After about two weeks he told me that he does not read. I mean he CAN read–he just does not read books. He offered me the books back. I mention all this because the truth of the matter is that in our world today nobody is going to pick up the Bible, read it, and come to follow Christ.

This makes me wonder about the Gideons Bible service that put bibles in all the hotel rooms. Did anyone ever get touched by Christ through that endeavor? My friend said, well, “Can you put all those books into a TikTok video?”

The reality today is that like those good parents in Jesus’ day, we will have to pick people up and carry them to be touched by Christ. This idea is amplified in the story of the paraplegic who is lowered through the roof by his friends in order to be healed by Christ.

That is it then! To enter the Kingdom of God, all you have to do is allow someone else who loves you and whom you love to bring you to be touched by Christ. Go ahead, be a child today. Be touched by Christ.