Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children ..."
These are radical words. Potentially life-changing words. Yet how many of us truly believe that we need to become like little children? And how many of us have begun to take on board the implications of Jesus' words for our life and faith?
"As a Child" explores this call to childlikeness, this call to littleness. It is a call made not to children, but to adults - not to those who are naturally childlike, but to those who have grown out of their childlike nature. In the same way, this book is not primarily about children, but rather about the child that God calls each of us to become.
"As a Child" is a book for anyone who wants to grow in their faith. For anyone who wants to enter into all that God has for them. For anyone who wants to live the life God wants them to live. For anyone who wants to be the person God wants them to be. For anyone who is willing to respond to Jesus' call, and become like a little child.
Phil Steer is the author of “As a Child: God’s Call to Littleness” which has been serialised by BRF in their prayer and spirituality journal, "Quiet Spaces". He is married with three children, lives in Romford, on the London/Essex border, and works with numbers in the London insurance market.
This is a very comfortable, conversational presentation of an idea that doesn't get enough attention, i.e., the admonition by Jesus that a believer's proper relationship toward God is that of a child toward a loving parent.
The chapters are short and easily digested, which seems appropriate. A scholarly or theological treatise would hardly fit with the theme, although the author does remain closely grounded via a multitude of references to Scripture. Pulling off what he has done is quite an accomplishment, I think. Some books (including one I read very recently) can analyze Scripture to the point of inadvertently highlighting how very faulty our understanding must be, potentially inspiring something that borders on alienation. Other books shoot from the hip, making dubious claims without bothering to justify them. Although I don't read a great many religiously themed books, it has been a while since I found one I liked this much.
I particularly appreciate the author's analogy between the life of a believer and a physical expedition: "You can travel an entire journey without your destination becoming clearer to you than it was when you set out, and it matters not a jot; your destination will be there just the same, and your journey will get you there just the same." This strikes me as a very helpful way of viewing the course of life. Steer goes further in evoking the image of a child in the backseat of a car, not recognizing landmarks along the way or knowing how much longer he must wait--but trusting, and endeavoring to be patient.
Steer insists that the call to be childlike does not mean abandoning the things we must do. He explains that using the parable of the talents, which had always been obscure to me. As I understand it now, the message is that, when given a responsibility, it's important to try. Not trying, for fear of failure, would be worse than failure itself. There's no escaping some degree of failure, just as a child learning to walk cannot avoid tumbles. But children don't give up. Children take chances. We should, too.
This leads into the question of how much we should ask for in prayer. Out of past disappointment or fear, one may avoid asking for much, so as to avoid further letdowns. This, Steer says, is not being childlike. Rather, like a child, we should be persistent in our requests. It's good advice for me, and most likely for other folks as well.
The conclusion offers some hints for how we might rediscover the child within, and set aside "our pride and our supposed dignity and maturity." But I've said enough. If this whets your interest, please read the book.
I think it's more profound than it may appear on the surface. I feel grateful for having had the opportunity to read it.
Quite impressive that someone could get a whole book of insight out of this well-known aspect of Jesus' teaching: 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children ...' I liked the style and the approach: about 20 short chapters, each taking a keyword from scripture and expounding on it at some length, e.g. 'childish', 'blessed', 'obedient', etc. The style was simple, punctuated with scripture and illustrations from everyday life. Some chapters were better than others - or, at least, some chapters resonated with me more than others. Highlights (or challenges) for me included:
'... we need to learn to walk the way of "insignificance", seeking to be "nothing" rather than desiring to be "something", learning to love and serve in gentleness and humility.' [From the chapter called 'Humbles']
'As adults, rarely are we able to enter fully into what we are doing. There are always too many other things clamouring for our time and attention: things that we need to do, and things that we want to do. Familiarity dulls our interest. We get distracted. Our mind wanders. We move on.' [From the chapter called 'Enter'] This one resonated with me. How hard it is to fully engage with anything these days ... we're so sophisticated and media-saturated that the single-mindedness of the child is lost to us.
'Obedience requires the setting aside of self, and of self-determination - of the freedom to feel that we can have what we want and do what we want whenever we want.' [From the chapter called 'Obedient'] A brave thing to say in our culture.
I liked it, I liked the comparisons of relationships between God and ourselves to everyday relationships and things that happen in life.One of my favourite books of the bible has always been Matthew, to which a lot is quoted. Well Done Phil you put it in a perspective that could be understood.
I liked it. I didn't just read through it fast like some books. I would read and then stop to think about what i had read. It is written in very clear language and speaks to your heart and longing for a relationship with God. I am so glad I read this book. The poem sums it up beautifully
This book is well written and interesting. Phil writes on a topic near and dear to my heart - childlike faith. He makes an important distinction between childish and childlike and makes a compelling case based on scripture for fostering the latter. The format (20 short chapters) makes it a good devotional read or a book well designed for anyone with a busy schedule. Phil paints a picture of what it means to approach God, life and faith through the unique view of child - it's a necessary book on a topic that is often undervalued. Definitely worth reading!!