At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?” For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.”
- Matthew 18:1-5 (MSG)
Jesus has a habit of subverting expectations. He tells us the meek shall inherit the earth. The powerful and proud will fall. Let your enemies strike your other cheek rather than striking back. And here, He tells us that to become a member of His kingdom, you must become childlike.
So, it’s time to start eating more sugar and drawing on the walls, right?
Wrong. This is childish not childlike.
What does it mean to be childlike?
As we grow older, we develop in our sense of identity. We establish who we are, what we believe and what we want to do with our lives. We embrace certainties and reject questions and doubts. The world needs to make sense to us in order to feel comfortable. Mystery fades, and the ability to see God can diminish with it.
This is what Jesus means when He tells us to be childlike.
Children have a simple, bewildered, open view of the world. We must have a similar view. We must not look at Scripture and think we have all the answers. We must look at it and know we’ll never stop trying to find them.
Children trust their parents wholly. We must trust God the same way. When He tells us He has a plan for good, we need to believe Him.
Children don’t inherently hate others; they learn this as they grow. We must be like children and stop hating people who look, talk or worship differently. Only then can we bridge gaps and grow closer to each other and God.
Let’s be more like children in the way that Jesus would have us be. It may just be what the world needs to become a better place.
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