Childlikeness renews wonder that childishness reasons away.
But if that’s the case, it may not be readily apparent in the the Apostle Paul’s often quoted,
“When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”
What is clear is that, whatever Paul meant by “childish things”, he allowed room for childlike wonder when he added, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (1Cor 13:11-13).
Earlier in the same letter, Paul took the risk of writing out loud about a childishness that had led his readers to reason themselves into different corners on many issues (1Cor 3:1-3). With the gentleness of a loving parent he led squabbling sons and daughters of God to the childlike ABCs of something better than what they thought was worth fighting about (1Cor 13:4-7) (1Cor 14:20).
Paul seems to have learned by experience that, while childishness slams doors and burns bridges, childlikeness frees us to look beyond ourselves—and beyond our own desires and dreams— to possibilities and worlds unimaginable.
In the same letter he wrote, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1Cor 2:9)
But I’m wondering whether a traditional approach to interpreting that passage in light of its context in 1Cor 2:8 might—quite ironically— contribute to the childishness Paul goes on to discourage (1Cor 3:1-3). Hope exploring an additional question next time will give us more to think about and imagine together.