I have a faint memory of watching Sesame Street when I was little. Some thirty years later, Sesame Street is back in my life, much more so than I ever expected. I have a nineteen month old daughter who enjoys Sesame Street, and LOVES every little song and jingle that the little red monster Elmo sings on that show. I don’t remember Elmo being the biggest star of the show back when I was a kid.
At some point, the writers of Sesame Street must have thought that Elmo was ready for the big time, because now Elmo must be earning a seven figure income. I guess the Tickle Me Elmo craze from the 1990’s turned Elmo into a celebrity. He is in almost every sketch.
I’ve watched enough Elmo for the past couple of months for Elmo’s voice to be the narrating voice over in just about every dream (and nightmare) I have now. I can do a pretty good impression right now for my daughter if I need to. We play an Elmo music video about brushing teeth for my daughter every night before bed while she brushes her teeth.
It appears that Elmo has been four years old for over thirty years. And I think that part of Elmo’s, shall I say, “usefulness” to the purpose of Sesame Street is that Elmo is so innocent and naïve, that teaching a lesson or making a point within each sketch becomes very easy. Elmo asks the basic questions that help the young audience to discover truth for themselves. Elmo receives the answers to life’s questions with joy and with, what we like to call, childlike faith.
Recently, while I was sitting with my daughter yet another episode of Sesame Street, I felt the Lord reminding me of the way in which Jesus used children in his teachings in Matthew 18 and 19. He said that we must become like children if we are to inherit the Kingdom. He even went so far as to say that the Kingdom “belongs” to such as them.
While we can always use and enjoy the reminder that children are precious to God, it is often harder for us sophisticated adults to be reminded that we must become lowly and humble and devoted like little children. Whenever Elmo interacts with one of the adults about a problem, he just receives the adult’s advice and follows through. He puts it into action in his relationships right away.
I’ve spend a lot of time immersed in the life of the church, the study of the Word, the commitment to discipleship and outreach, and growing in maturity. But sometimes I, and I’m sure many Christian “veterans”, tend to think that I know a thing or two and I have answers based on all of the effort I’ve put in. I have experience. And when I encounter surprises or trials, I over-think it. I try to utilize my life experiences, my expertise, my “wisdom”, my research, and solve the problem more than prayerfully relying on God first. Going “Elmo” and approaching life with a willingness to learn from the Master today, and responding in faith in spite of the circumstances, gets to be difficult.
If we recommit to becoming like children and inheriting the Kingdom, then when we read a familiar bible passage for the thirtieth time, we will still experience the force and impact of the message in a fresh way, rather than skimming by the passage thinking, “oh yeah, I know what that says. I know what that means.”
There is great benefit in growing in our maturity as followers of Jesus. We are commanded to grow. But as we add to our knowledge, we must also increase in our faith and humbleness. Let us recommit to becoming like little children, hearing the words of Jesus with awe like when Elmo receives truth for the first time, and be transformed by our inheriting the Kingdom of God for fully each day.