Being a child. What does that statement bring to your mind? Does it bring back good memories from a time when life seemed simpler? Does it seem derogatory or like a lowering of status? Or does it make you think of your own children, nieces, nephews, or friends’ children?
No matter what we think of children, Jesus lifts them up in his interactions with them. He gives them a voice and recognizes them as an integral part of the kingdom he came to usher in. He takes them in his arms and blesses them. And, he says that if anyone “does not receive the kingdom of God like a child [they] shall not enter it” (see Mark 10:13-16). Jesus elevates children and being a child to a new status.
What is it about children that makes them so important to Jesus? I have three thoughts. First, kids are inherently innocent. To be sure, we know kids that are more ornery or kids that have experienced great tragedy, but for the most part children haven’t been calloused by life, exposed to the capriciousness of this world and thus lost that innocence.
Secondly, children have an automatic sense of wonder and awe that makes them predisposed to trust, to believe, to have faith. Have you ever noticed how they are tuned in to the little things in life that are of great importance, while we adults tend to fixate on the seemingly big things of least importance? Their sense of wonder makes them quick to be attuned to the supernatural, and quick to trust God as Father.
And last, children have no pretense. They are the original WYSIWYG - "what you see is what you get." I love that, and I have so many embarrassing personal stories to illustrate it. A child is most likely to call a spade a spade before anyone else. But because of this sometimes surprising quality, kids can be like Jesus’ description of Nathanael, “one in whom there is no deceit” (John 1:47). They are who they are.
These qualities are all great, but what do they have to do with children’s status in God’s eyes and “entering the kingdom of God?”
It turns out that being a child is one of the most important things we can do in life because it can direct our affections, our attention, and very being toward God, our Father.
I don’t know where you are right now in your spiritual journey, but if you’ve never said “yes” to God by following Jesus, I highly recommend it. Because when we give our lives to him over and over, day by day, we discover the life of God within us, his Holy Spirit breeding and cultivating innocence that wasn’t there before, a sense of wonder and awe leading to faithfulness and belief, and most of all woeful the pretense being painfully yet gloriously stripped away.
And that’s what it means to be a child of God. It’s the greatest status any of us could ever have.
You’re in my prayers this week. I hope to see you soon.