“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 was reading the latest copy of Risen Magazine last night, and this verse was written across the top of one of the pages. You know how sometimes you read a verse a hundred times, and one day you read it, and it speaks to you differently. I looked at the verse closer and asked myself what it really means to ”receive the kingdom of God like a child”?
The answer might seem obvious to some, but if you break it down a little, it reaches out and challenges your faith on a whole new level. What brought you to Christ in the first place (assuming you are a follower)? Did you do your research and finally come to the conclusion that this was the religion you felt was right? Was it the friends you were with that convinced you of the truth? Was it at a church service when you walked up for the alter call? What was it that led to your conversion? Did you recieve God like a child?
Assuming you have taken the step of declaring Christ as your Lord, where is your walk today? How have you grown? What new things have been taught to you? Do you resist change? Do you crave His attention? Do you accept his calling? Do you recieve God like a child?
Think about the answers to these questions, and ask yourself again– what does it mean to ”receive the kingdom of God like a child”?
I would argue that to understand what Christ means by this, we need to look at children and try to see the world through their eyes. If anyone wants to see the simple truths in life, they need to look no further than observing a child’s behavior at seemingly simple tasks. Children show no prejudice, smile at the little things in life, and their curiosity and amazement in the world reflects what I think should be our excitement in Christ every day. Just blow bubbles in the air and watch little children run around laughing and screaming in joy. Bubbles. Such a simple thing, but so beautiful at the same time.
I think to ”receive the kingdom of God like a child”, we need to take a step back from all the theology. Step away from the prejudices that hold us back. Look at creation in simple wonder and amazement. Open our arms towards our creator, and listen with enthusiasm as he teaches us the truth.
Reflecting on this a little bit, I was brought back to a moment this past weekend which made me smile. Julie and I were out on a ride when I had to make a quick pit stop into the Encinitas Starbucks to use their facilities. Parking my bike out front, I ran inside real quick. Doing my business, I came back outside to see a little boy about 6 years old standing at my bike. Looking at my bike with an intense look on his face, he was tracing the outline of the tubes with his fingers. He looked like a kid in a candy store who just saw the ultimate gobstopper. (Really he had about the same look on his face that I did when I bought the bike 18 months ago)
I walked up to him.
“Is this your bike?” he asked
“It sure is” I answered
“This is a really cool bike” he said
“Thank you” I answered him, “do you have a bike?”
“Yeah. I have a blue one. It is really fast. It goes zoooooommm!” he said with passion while waving his hand in race car motion.
“I wish I had a blue bike,” I said “That would be really cool”
“Well actually, I wish I had an orange one though. Orange bikes are really, really fast”
“Oh yeah?” I said
“Yeah, but my blue bike is way faster than yours anyway” he said.
I laughed and said “oh yeah?”
“Yeah” he said. He paused for a second. “Maybe you and I should race sometime.”
I had the biggest smile on my face as cute kid challenged me to a dual. “Yeah, maybe I will see you out at a race someday”
“Yeah” he said.
“OK, we’ll see you out there” I said.
Do we have ‘awe’ in our eyes when we are in Christ’s presence? Do we have faith in the gifts we have been given to accomplish any task? Do we have the courage to share this faith with a total stranger? Do we challenge those around us in the spirit of love? —This is the heart of a child.
Lord help us to receive your kingdom like children. Help our eyes see the simplicity in your complexity. Help us spread the joy to those around us. Let our laughter be contagious.