“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
The main reason that I love my job (I’m a teacher) is because I get to work with children. Whilst they can get a little annoying (and by 4pm on a dark Thursday afternoon they can seem VERY annoying…), for the most part it is a real pleasure to work with young people. Children have yet to adopt the cynicism that seems to plague our society. They are much more open to new ideas and new ways of thinking than most adults are. They also have a remarkable sincerity seldom found in the adult world; if an eleven year old child tells you that they really enjoyed your lesson, the chances are that they genuinely mean it.
It’s interesting, therefore, that Jesus in today’s passage says that if someone is to enter the kingdom of God, they must receive it like a child. The only way to know Jesus is to strip away the cynicism of the world, to be open to him, and to be sincere about accepting his words. Sometimes the necessity of being like a little child is seen by non-believers as a bad thing, as accepting the Gospel without questioning. I do not think that is a valid criticism, however, since children are generally far more likely to question an idea than adults! It’s also interesting in the full passage today that Jesus is speaking in response to babies being brought to him. Just as babies are completely dependent on adults to look after them and to provide for them, we too have to place out total trust in Jesus, and to make ourselves fully dependent on him.
As we reflect on this verse today consider if you receive the kingdom of God like a little child. Are you uncynical, open and sincere in receiving the kingdom of God? Or do you approach the Gospel with a world-weary cynicism and a hardened heart? Let’s pray today that God would help us all to be more like children as we receive his kingdom.