Luke 18:15-17 (ESV) Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 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. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
I love that Jesus welcomed the presence of children. They were not a bother, an irritation or a distraction. In fact, He paints a picture of children that is wildly different. It is they, he says, that they embody the kingdom of God. How can that be? They don’t even know God. In fact, if I told them about God, and explained who He is, they wouldn’t even understand. So, how is it that the Kingdom is theirs? There is one more question that is more important than all of these. According to verse 17, our only hope for inheriting the kingdom of God is to do so, like a child. How does that work?
Let’s be clear. This parable is not about being childish, nor does it have anything to do with maturity. God’s word clearly expresses our need to become mature believers in him. 1 Corinthians 14:20, for example, exhorts us to not be childish in our understanding. We are to grow, being weaned off of milk and onto solid food (1 Cor 3:2). So, how do we become mature and childlike at the same time? Jesus wants us to embrace the attitudes of a child. As I think about it, there are several things that a child has, naturally. All of these, by the way, show up in spite of their environment.
- Childlike is to let go of asserting their power or seeking honor.
- Childlike is to be generous rather than jealous, or envious
- Childlike is to not care about money. They don’t even have a concept of it
- Childlike is to be content. This is why the box is more fun than the present.
- Childlike is to be eager – keen or ardent in desire or feeling; impatiently longing:
- Childlike is to be
- Childlike is to be playful
- Childlike is to be vulnerable
- Childlike is to be inquisitive
- Childlike is to be moldable and shapeable
- Childlike is to be filled with wonder
As I read through this list, it is clear to me why Jesus loves children. It is also a fantastic picture of the kingdom of God. The best part is that it can be ours right now, today. All you have to do is be those things. Sounds impossible, right? This is where the good news comes in. Jesus, came to fill that gap for us. The life that we cannot have on our own, he freely gives. After all, “the son of man came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Matt 20:28).