Like a Child

Today’s reading link: Genesis 40; Mark 10; Job 6; Romans 10

How should we receive the kingdom of God? Like a child.

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” – Mark 10:15

This verse actually scared me because it was very specific saying that if we don’t receive the kingdom like a child we shall not enter it. Hopefully you’re with me and are planning on entering it, so I thought it worthwhile to spend some time considering what it means to receive the kingdom of God like a child.

The word receive is a verb so this provides reasoning that receiving the kingdom requires active participation. God is always near us and is seeking a relationship with us, but we need to receive him, we need to let him in. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

These thoughts come to mind when I think about the minds and actions of children and some correlating verses that speak to these attributes:

  1. Receive fearlessly; if you give them something, they just take it without hesitation. We too should be fearless. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
  2. Children seem to always be hungry and thirsty. Like a child hungering and thirsting for food, we should hunger and thirst for righteousness. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6) 
  3. Receive joyfully. Luke 19:1-10 tells the story of Zacchaeus, the cheating tax collector who turned to follow Jesus. Zacchaeus received Jesus joyfully; like us, he had much to be thankful for when he recognized salvation in repentance and trust in Jesus.
  4. Children are meek. Merriam-Webster defines meek as “having or showing a quiet or gentle nature” (keyword here is “nature”… it is fully understood that children can be extremely loud, but their nature is generally quiet and gentle). “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)
  5. A synonym for meek is the word humble and we need to humble ourselves like children. Matthew’s account of Jesus teaching about receiving like children includes the verb “humbles”. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3-4)
  6. Children do not have the weight of the world on their shoulders. They don’t have worries piled up. They’re not worrying about their future (marriage, retirement, their own children) or their past (mistakes, sins, or when they were harmed by others). They’re focused on “right now”. Jesus has it covered and said, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34)
  7. Children fully depend on their caregivers for sustenance. Jesus reminds us of our value to God and is telling us to trust God for sustenance as he said “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
  8. Children want to be taught and led. While children may often resist teaching and leadership, I believe humans have an “inner program” designed by our creator where we crave learning and we long for someone to lead us. How wonderful it would be to have leaders of nations who are solely for us. This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.” (Isaiah 48:17)
  9. Children want a father. While we all have differing experiences and relationships with our earthly fathers, we have one consistent, loving, Heavenly Father who made us, shaped us, and will never leave us. “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)
  10. Children want to be loved, held, and given attention. What greater proof that we are loved than the fact that our creator, God in Heaven, sent his own son to die for us? “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8)

These desirable childlike attributes remind me that I’m often quite the opposite, I’m like a problem child, but in my repentance through Jesus Christ I am forgiven.

“But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. (Nehemiah 9:16-17)

Heavenly Father, I’m stubborn and I often disobey your commandments. I often selfishly choose to forget what you’ve done for me, even though you remind me every day how you rescued me and how you love me. Thank you for dealing with me with grace and mercy. Thank you for being slow to anger even though I am not. Thank you for loving me even when I don’t show love. Thank you for not forsaking me even when I have forsaken you. Amen.