I recently hit A-list status on Southwest.
Which means, well, absolutely nothing.
When the packet of info came in the mail announcing my new status, I kept flipping through the brochure looking for the benefits. “I already check in early, so A-status check in isn’t special. But surely there’s something?” I thought. Nope. There is nothing.
There’s no special club at the airport that smells like lavender.
There’s no first class for you to sit in.
There’s no diamond, platinum or gold package you earn.
You get to receive 25% more miles every time you fly. And you can apply those miles to … nothing.
I’m fine with that, though, because that’s what I love about Southwest. They’re cheap. They’re low priced. They give you great service and very little else. It wouldn’t make sense for them to be low priced and have some blinged out rewards programs.
I get it. I do. But my oldest daughter L.E. didn’t. A few weeks ago, we flew out to Las Vegas for a speaking engagement. On the flight home she asked me, “Will we get a meal on this plane?” In a classic father/daughter moment, I turned to her slowly and said, “L.E., let me tell you a little about Southwest.”
We’re getting peanuts. If all goes well, the peanuts will have a light glaze of honey roast. But it’s just going to be peanuts. And that’s OK.
During the four hour flight home, I answered a lot of other questions for L.E. She’s 8, and 8 year olds are full of questions. That’s kind of what they do. And in the middle of the flight, looking at L.E., I thought of one of my own:
“Why did Christ say we needed receive the kingdom of God like a little child?”
Have you ever thought about that? We often talk about “faith like a child,” from verses like Luke 18:17 that says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” or Matthew 18:4, “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Kids are interesting role models though. I guarantee you’ve never been in a meeting at work and someone said, “In order to hit our sales numbers this quarter, we’ve got to have discipline like a child.” No politician has ever said, “If I’m elected, I’ll run the country with wisdom like a child.” No coach has ever said, “In order for us to win Saturday’s game, we need to work hard like a child.”
It’s difficult to find another context in life where being “like a child” is held up as something to emulate. (Except for maybe the arts.)
So why then, of all the examples Christ could have used, are children the example he picked? I’ve heard someone say it’s because kids are dependent and in need of being taken care of, and God takes care of us like that.
But I think there’s an even simpler possibility.
Because kids get grace.
Grace makes sense to kids. They’ve got the imagination and creativity and “anything is possible” attitude that can accept the unbelievable nature of grace. We adults are the ones who have a hard time with it.
We’ve spent 10 or 20 or 30 years learning how “things work.” There are consequences, cause and effect, A+B = C situations. Grace doesn’t fit those.
We get something we don’t deserve. Something we can’t control. Something we can’t earn. Something that makes no sense when you try to break it down logically. So you’re saying that when I make a mess of my life, when I wreck everything in it, that there’s a God who loves me so much that he sent his only son to die for me so that I could repent and be forgiven?
But not to kids.
McRae, my youngest daughter, reminded me of this a few months ago.
While we were leaving Chuck-e-Cheese, the only place she ever picks for our daddy/daughter dates, we heard a police siren. Into the dark fall night the blue lights of a cop car sped by. In the backseat, I heard McRae sigh and say,
“Ohhhh, I love that sound.”
That’s a strange thing for a six year old to say, so I asked her why. Without missing a beat she said, “Because that’s the sound of someone getting rescued.”
Have you ever thought that?
I haven’t. When I see a cop car with the lights on behind me, my first thought is “Was I speeding? Oh no, he’s coming for me. There’s no way I was going as fast as that other guy. I just kind of ran the red light. He really ran it!” If the cop passes me, I wonder who he’s going to get. I imagine someone has broken the law and is about to be caught.
Kids? They get rescue. They get grace.
And in case I wasn’t paying attention that night, God gave me another example from McRae. One day she told me about a boy in her pre-school class who was really bad last year. (Bad in pre-school usually means you’re a biter.)
In the midst of telling me how bad he was, McRae said,
“He used to wear really soft and fuzzy slippers to school. Even when it wasn’t pajama day. I bet his mom heard how bad he was, and she let him wear those fun slippers because she wanted him to know that no matter how bad he was, she loved him.”
That’s how kids think. If you’re loved, you’re fully loved. If you’re in need of rescue, it’s coming. If you’re bad, you can still come home.
Kids get grace.
I think Christ wants us to get it too.
That’s why I think he wants us to have faith like a child.