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The Second Childhood
by Alan Allegra
10/19/2016 / Salvation
Wiktionary.org defines "second childhood as, "The period or state of cognitive decline of an elderly person, characterized by childlike judgment and behavior. A childlike state in any adult, resulting from mental illness, trauma, or other conditions."
Not a very flattering picture! When an adult acts like a child playing with toys, talking baby talk, not taking responsibility for his or her actions we may excuse it as participation in one's "second childhood."
Adults are expected to act like adults. When the Corinthians were acting irrationally, the apostle Paul encouraged them, "Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature" (1 Corinthians 14:20). He expected them to be mature, or adult, in their thinking, but innocent regarding evil. Paul also used the illustration of mature behavior in chapter 13, verse 11: "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." He made a distinction between childhood and adulthood.
There is an analogy in the spiritual realm. God requires that believers submit to the authority of church leaders so the body of Christ will grow. "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes" (Ephesians 4:11-14). God's children are to gain adult discernment, wisdom, and stability. The source of spiritual nourishment for this growth is the Word of God: "Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation" (1 Peter 2:2).
Now, growth to maturity implies a start in immaturity, or childhood. This would mean a beginning of spiritual life, and this is what the Bible teaches.
When Jesus explained the kingdom of God to Nicodemus (John 3), he told him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (3:3). Nicodemus thought Jesus meant physical birth, but he meant a spiritual rebirth. To be saved, a citizen of the heavenly kingdom, a person must, in the spiritual sense, enter a second childhood.
A physical second childhood may be an annoyance. At one point, the disciples found actual little children to be annoying, unworthy of Jesus' time and attention (Luke 18:5-17). However, Jesus used these children as an example of the innocent trusting attitude needed to become his disciple (Mark 10:13-15). This even involves discipline from our Heavenly Father (Hebrews 12:5-11; Revelation 20:6, 14).
To enter that second childhood takes faith. A person cannot turn back the clock and slide down the birth canal again. Just as we play no part in our natural birth, we contribute nothing to our spiritual birth (John 1:12-13). This birth is wrought by believing the Word of God: "[S]ince you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God" (1 Peter 1:23).
The old adage is true: "Born once, die twice. Born twice, die once." Being born physically is one thing; being born again spiritually is everything!
Alan is Content Coordinator for Lifestyles Over 50 (Thrive Media) and contributor to the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also an adult Sunday school teacher and Bible study leader. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology, and being a senior citizen!
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