On more than one occasion, I have been accused of being naïve, so I went and looked up the meaning.
According to dictionary.com:
1. having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absence of artificiality; unsophisticated; ingenuous.
2. having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous: She’s so naive she believes everything she reads. He has a very naive attitude toward politics.
3. having or marked by a simple, unaffectedly direct style reflecting little or no formal training or technique: valuable naive 19th-century American portrait paintings.
4. not having previously been the subject of a scientific experiment, as an animal.
I think I’m ok with that. But that wasn’t always the case.
Back in the mid-nineties, I felt led to pursue my Doctor of Ministries degree. It seemed like the logical thing to do. I applied to the denominational seminary of the church I was a part of. I completed the first seminar and was totally in love with being back in school again. I raced into the second course with all kinds of enthusiasm and anticipation. Unfortunately, I ran headlong into a professor who rigidly held to position and style of teaching. I wasn’t deep enough or reflective enough. I didn’t see things his way. He wanted to fail me. I worked hard in the course and tried to present my position and perspective. I was told that if I was hoped to advance in the process I would have to learn to “jump through the hoops” placed before me. I’m not a very good jumper, so I dropped out of the program.
I’m especially happy that my brand of naivety includes the fourth definition from the list above! But the more I think about it, the more I believe that Jesus was looking for a certain level of naiveté from his own. Do you remember when the disciples were trying to identify their own importance, and how Jesus put them in their place?
1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-4, NIV)
I’d rather be simple than cynical, or arrogant. I’d rather be real than artificial (reminds me of Paul’s instruction to the Romans that their love was to be without hypocrisy). I want to be credulous. I want to be ready to believe and to trust. I especially want that kind of relationship with the creator of the universe who invites you and me to call him, “Daddy.”