I was struck in my Bible reading this morning by Paul's description of himself and his fellow workers when they had come and were serving the Thessalonians with the gospel and their lives. He likened himself and those working with him as being like young children among them (1 Thessalonians 2:7). It can read "gentle" among you, my Greek New Testament categorizing the reading the TNIV adopts as "almost certain". There is one letter difference. Gentle among you is powerful as well. But I especially find the thought of being like young children among these new believers, intriguing. He also likens himself and his fellow workers to a nursing mother and a father dealing with his children.
Being like young children among them implies a kind of innocence and acceptance of another, taking them at face value and wanting to be their friend. This certainly involves listening and taking the other person seriously, really getting to know them as they are. And it would mean playing with them. It certainly does not mean childishness in the sense of being selfish and wanting my own way. I think too it means an awe and wonder with life. Young children are still fascinated with new discoveries and in our Father's world there are still plenty out there for us to find.
Jesus ate and drank with tax collectors and sinners. He didn't come to them with a long face and start a diatribe about how they were all going to hell in a handbasket. Instead he himself, I think, was like a young child among them, enjoying life and food and drink with them as he opened up his Father's world and kingdom to them. We're to follow his way, being like him in this. This is to become simply a part of who we are.
What thoughts come to your mind about this? How does being like young children relate to being in mission in this world?