Cultivating the Kind of Faith That Leads to the Kingdom
One of Jesus’ most famous statements is this: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). What exactly does this mean?
To understand this, we need to look at the context in which Jesus is teaching. He had just interrupted the disciples’ argument about who would be the greatest in God’s kingdom when he made this statement. And in order to drive it home, Jesus had a little child stand up in their midst.
According to Luke’s version of this story, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18:17). That is a fascinating statement. Conventional wisdom would say that to know God, a child should become like an adult. But according to Jesus, an adult must become as a child. The child is the model, not the adult.
Jesus’ point was that we need to have childlike faith. This does not mean we need to be childish, of course. It means we should be childlike. There’s a difference.
To be childlike means to approach the things of God with a humility and a trust and a faith that is simple and pure.
Two Things to Learn from Children
Children exhibit two attributes that, I believe, we can all learn from and apply to our spiritual lives.
Firstly, children are honest. If they are happy, they laugh. If they are sad or tired or hungry, they will cry. If they fall, they run to Mom. (And if Mom is nowhere to be found, they will reluctantly accept Dad.) We should come to God with childlike honesty as well.
Secondly, children also come to us in a state of helplessness. They are aware they can’t do a lot of things for themselves. They can’t care for themselves. They can’t feed themselves. And in the same way, we should come to God acknowledging our complete helplessness and dependence on him to forgive our sins.
A Simple Way to Learn Childlike Faith
An excellent way to understand and develop a childlike faith is to spend time with children. You enter their world and see things with their eyes. You communicate with them in words that they understand as you also seek to understand what they say to you.
That’s why it’s so important to read to them from an early age. With both of my sons, Christopher and Jonathan, I started reading Bible stories to them when they were just little ones, even before they could fully understand them. And then they grew to love them and would want to hear more of them. I’ve done the same thing with my grandchildren.
This article originally appeared on Greg’s blog and is reposted here by permission.