Matthew 18:2-4 has so stirred in me that it's almost become an obsession. I've been chewing on it like a dog chews on a favorite bone: thinking about it, pondering it, reading it in relation to other texts, discussing it with others, etc. The question I'm trying to answer is this: Why did Jesus tell us we had to become like little children to enter the Kingdom?
There is so much richness here, and my mind is becoming swollen with thoughts, so I have to write these down to try to make sense of it all.
1. According to Luke 18:17, we must receive the Kingdom of God like a child or we will not enter it.
Children receive open-handedly and joyfully. They don't feel obligated to give a gift in return.
Some people have a very hard time receiving: why?
Well, there are two people involved in the gift exchange: the giver and the receiver.
Most people would rather be the giver because it's the "status" role, the "top dog" position. The giver HAS something to give. We want to be on the "+" side of life, having and possessing, with assets and resources and "enough" (no, more than enough, a surplus..."leftovers" and "extras" to go around). Additionally, if we are givers who keep score, we can design a world where everyone owes us.
But receivers.....receivers are the ones in need, the empty-handed ones, the "have nots" who must rely on the generosity of others if they are to have anything at all.
God, through Jesus, has opened the door of Heaven to all. But we have a choice. We can say, "yes" or "no." To enter in, we must be willing to enter not as a giver but as a receiver. There is only One giver, the Lord on High. (Then, as His kids who have received so great an inheritance, we do get to share with others, but it's His Riches we give....we have no riches of our own to offer.) How difficult this truth is for those who want to earn their way into His Kingdom.
2. Faith like a child. Children are credulous. They lack skepticism. They trust easily and completely. They are not yet jaded by the disappointments and realities of life.
In the same way, God's kids trust Jesus. They take Him at His word. They believe everything He says, and they know Jesus can do anything.
3. Children know the rules and routines of their household. They don't have to wonder how life works in their particular home. As a member of that household, they have intimate knowledge of the daily operations of that household. They know because they LIVE IN IT.
I should be this familiar with my God, through daily interaction and intimate contact. He is my Heavenly Father, and I must live in His household (His Kingdom). His way of life must become mine because I dwell in His house.
Example: Matthew 5:9, The children of God are peacemakers. Shalom is the mark of life in God's Kingdom. His kids grow up in a household that practices shalom, and they are marked by it. They become peacemakers.
4. Children become what they see. They are imprinted by the model of their family of origin and grow to be like them.
Is this why we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus? He is our model. God gives His children spiritual eyes to see Jesus, and we become like Him in the beholding. (1 John 3, Children of God)
5. Kids don't make the rules....parents do. Kids abide by the rules the parents make.
He is Lord, and the Lord's children follow Him. As His child, I obey. I don't try to rule over my Abba. I accept His position and authority in my life.
6. Kids are the learners (while adults/parents are the teachers).
God's kids come humbly to the Word, with no agenda other than to be taught. God's kids know that HE is the source of all wisdom, and they love to sit at His feet and learn from Him.
7. The root of that word "converted," in the Greek means, "strengthened from the base of." According to Proverbs 4:23, it is our heart that would need to be converted (straightened out/strengthened by God) because our lives flow from our hearts. If your heart is pure, the whole course of your life will be pure. If your heart is corrupt, the whole course of your life will be corrupt. Matthew 5:8 talks about the importance of having a pure heart if we hope to see God.
Back to children: Children are genuine. They come into the world with no concept of "image." They just are what they are. When they're happy, they sing or smile or laugh or skip or jump up and down and squeal. When they're sad, they don't hide it; they cry. They don't hold themselves back for fear of what others will think of them. They don't wear masks or "manage" their image. They experience life heartily, with a whole heart.
I think of a man I know who suffered a very traumatic childhood. Unfortunately, he had to "freeze" his heart in order to survive. The problem is.....thirty years later, it is still "frozen." Shame causes him to hide his true self. As a result, intimacy with his wife, children, even God, is impossible. He's a shell of a man because he cut himself off from his heart. I would argue that you can't have a pure heart without a whole heart.
God's children let Him restore their hearts. At the moment of conversion, God's kids receive a new heart from Abba, and He teaches them to live wholeheartedly again. (He takes away our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh....open to Him, responsive to His Spirit, reconnected with our emotions. He restores the things that we lost... our imagination, our creativity, our joy, our sense of fun and passion and energy and enthusiasm and play, our excitement for life and living, our faith, our hope, our love. He restores the imago dei He placed in us when He created us, that image of God that has been damaged by the sin of this world. This whole-hearted living is abundant living , and God's kids are to be known for living lives of abundance.)
Thank you for taking the time to read this. How I wish I could have heard these words straight from Jesus's mouth, known the culture and context into which He spoke, and been able to ask Him my questions directly. But we have His Holy Spirit to lead us in all truth, so I will press in....knowing that He gives revelation to those who earnestly seek Him. I am desperate for revelation because I am desperate for more of HIM!
Please respond with your own thoughts or additional insights. I would love to dialogue with you all concerning these truths.