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Relating is believing

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19.14

Scottish philosopher, John Macmurray, directs our attention to the way in which a child grows. At birth a child is completely dependent upon its mother (or substitute care-giver). That relationship has begun in the womb but it quickly develops and becomes reciprocal. As the child progresses in strength and confidence it widens its web of acquaintance - first within the home and then further afield. This learning is not theoretical, it is practical and real - experimental indeed. The child is an active learner, acquiring knowledge and experience through relating to its surroundings, both animate and inanimate. Eventually the child comes to the awareness of dimensions beyond its reach. At this point its adventure into the abstract and metaphysical begins. Again the child will be dependent on others - older peers and adults. What answers will their enquiring minds receive.

Macmurray teaches that this is how God created the universe: like a giant play-pen in which we learn by doing and relating. Where does God fit in? Everywhere, of course! But, like everything else, that most crucial of relationships requires acquaintance and, to make someone's acquaintance, one must be introduced. Shall we introduce our children to God - or leave them to flounder or, perhaps worse, send them away on a wild goose chase after a naturalistic or even atheistic quest? Conceiving creation to be an inanimate void is to miss the whole point: life is a web of personal and active relationships, deliberately created by that supreme being we call God, who operates out of love and who invites us to know him intimately and personally.

No wonder Jesus encouraged the disciples to welcome little children. And no wonder he commended their instinctive responsiveness. As he went on to teach them - and us: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."



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