Luke 18:15-17 (ESV)
15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
There are many references in the scripture about having faith like a child in the New Testament as it does in Luke 18:17. God holds children in high regard showing them more mercy, compassion, and patience than He does adults in many situations. That may lead many to find themselves asking, so what does “receive the kingdom of God like a child” mean? There are many things we could say about children, but I wish to examine this scripture in the context which Jesus meant for the disciples to understand it. Children often display certain characteristics which seem effortless because they are certain nature to them. Values such as trust, innocence/purity, faith, curiosity, humility, and love are easily displayed by children. We will examine the characteristics of these traits and how they relate to “entering the kingdom of God”.
Ask any kid who their most trusted source for information is and the most likely response will be their parents. For some children their trust is harder to gain than others. Once a person has it however, it is most likely there to stay unless violated in a major way. Just as children trust their parents with their livelihoods, we must trust God to provide and take care of us. If we do not trust God, we have not surrendered our lives to Him. If we have not surrendered our lives in His hands, we have truly surrendered our close relationship with the Heavenly Father. If we intend to get the most out of our relationship with God and enjoy our walk with Him, we must be willing to place our trust with Him as a child would as well. Trust in God as our redeemer just as in any relationship, is vital to its health and longevity.
Until a child reaches an age of accountability, that child is viewed pure before the judgment of the Lord and remains innocent. Innocence is admired by a child’s mother and looked upon in love. The same is true for God. He looks upon the little children and sees their innocence and purity. The truth is that He sees us all as His children, but somewhere along the way the enemy has been allowed to rob us of our innocence. Our purity has been tainted by the dirtiness of this evil world we live in. Thank God for the spotless lamb of Jesus Christ who lived and died for us, so that we may be innocent, pure, righteous, and holy before God. Just as children are pure from in-exposure to the sins of the world, we as adults must also fight to maintain the purity of our hearts and minds. Remember the song, “O be careful little eyes what you see. O be careful little ears what you hear…For the Father up above. He’s looking down in love.”? If we monitor what goes into our hearts, minds, and body we can maintain some innocence in our lives. The less clutter we have inside, the more room there is for Christ. The scripture is clear that what we put in our hearts and minds is what determines who we become (Philippians 4:8). Maintaining innocence will also help with keeping our trust, faith, humility, and love in their rightful order. If we limit the exposure to the consequences of sin and negativity in our lives, we limit our exposure to the negative effects of those things.
Most admired above all traits by Jesus is a child’s faith. You see the quality referenced multiple times in the New Testament. Jesus often references small amounts of faith such as a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), but also mentions how good it is to have childlike faith (Matthew 18:2-4). Just as children trust because they have not been let down by humanity enough to be learned otherwise, they also have blind faith. They see no hindrances or obstacles for God because they assume anything is possible for God. Why doubt or have unbelief when you have not learned such bad traits? These are characteristics we should never learn nor pick up in the first place. If only we could have childlike faith we could not only enter kingdom of God, but also move mountain ranges instead of just mountains. It is faith that is identified as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Let us have the faith to find ourselves in the kingdom of God, but also let’s find out what we can also accomplish along the way with a dose of childlike faith.
Children’s curiousness makes them supreme candidates for the kingdom of God. Kids wish to learn because they are growing and developing just as a baby Christian, soaking in all God has to offer. As Christians we never stop learning and growing. This is why God calls us to be constant students of His Word, nature, history, and methods. He pursues us as His bride, so He longs for us to pursue Him back. Marriages that are one-sided often do not last, yet we allow treat God to a one-sided relationship. We allow for Him to do all the pursuing us. It is only through constant curiosity of trying to learn more about our spouse that we grow closer over time. The same is required of us to get into the kingdom of heaven as explained by Christ. In order to know and love God, we have to maintain that curious desire and pursue a relationship with Him.
To keep from lifting ourselves above the Holy Father, we must keep a child’s level of humility. Observe many children on a playground and what do you see? What I observe is that no matter what part of the country you are from or how different the children are, they treat one another as equals. Unless there is a toy to fight over, children will often play with strangers while displaying the highest level of humility rarely seen from adults. What makes it awesome is that children are genuinely humble. Adults are willing to “fake it until they make it”, but children truly care for one another and feel that other children are equal to them in importance. In order to see the kingdom of heaven, we must first see that we are all created in the image of God.
The first of the commandments is to love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls (Matthew 22:36-38). The second greatest commandment found directly after in verse 39 Jesus says, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”. This is displayed the best by children. It is natural for children to love as God commands us to love. For God, the only way to love is unconditionally and children love unconditionally. God commands us to not only love, but to also walk in love as He does (Ephesians 5:2). Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world therefore we do not love perfectly either. This shall change at the second coming of Christ, but we must strive until then to love our best and let God do the rest. It is unfortunate the world has changed the definition of love so much. If we understand love by how the Bible defines it and how Christ lived, we can then reflect that in the love that we give to each other. It is only when you know Christ and your Lord and Savior that you can properly love others as He loves us. If you aren’t saved today by the redeeming grace of Christ, you are missing out on the greatest love of all. Find out how to become saved today on our “What is the Gospel” page.
It is these qualities that I believe that Jesus was trying to portray to the disciples. In their defense, large crowds would often surround Jesus. I watch often as well-known ministers come to a church and people gather around them with needs. Some are very serious and need God to intervene, while others may seem some-what frivolous to bystanders. The truth is God cares about everything that concerns us because we are his children. If He cares about the number of hairs on our head, the food in our stomach, and the birds of the air; He certainly cares about what concerns us enough to reach out in prayer. Thank you for joining us again and may we both be blessed soon in the kingdom of heaven together. Until then, have the qualities of a child and remain faithful to Him. God Bless!
Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Matthew 17:20 (ESV)
20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 18:2-4 (ESV)
2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV)
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Ephesians 5:2 (ESV)
2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.