Receive the Kingdom of God like a little child
In Mark 10:15 (and Matthew 18:3, and Luke 18:17) Jesus said something that people have wondered about ever since. He said that we must receive the kingdom of God “like a little child” or we will never get in. What does it mean for us to “receive the kingdom of God like a little child”?
Four things come to my mind:
Little children have curiosity or open-mindedness. They constantly ask questions because they want to understand what life is all about. It is reported that on average, a five-year-old asks 65 questions per day, but a forty-four-year-old asks only four questions per day.
Fred Smith points out, “Dr. Walt Hearn, a biochemist at Yale University (an old friend of mine when we were both students at the University of California at Berkeley), surprised me once by saying, ‘Fred, every night when you go to bed you ought to be more ignorant than you were when you woke up.’ I took this as facetious until he explained that if I considered my knowledge as a balloon and every day that balloon increased in size, it touched more and more ignorance on the periphery.”
Little children have that unstoppable curiosity. They have open minds. They want to discover life. We ought to approach God and faith in the same way: With an enthusiasm to discover what God will reveal to us!
Little children learn through practice. It is reported that on average, a five-year-old engages in 98 creative tasks per day, but a forty-four-year-old engages in only two creative tasks per day. Those creative engagements are the way in which little children learn new skills.
Mary Rita Schilke Korzan adds further insight as to how children learn:
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to pain another one.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing, and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don’t
When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn’t feel good, and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it’s all right to cry.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything I could be.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I learned most of life’s lessons that I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, “Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.”
Little children learn by trying and putting into practice what they watch. We ought to approach God and faith in the same way: By trying to put into practice what we see in Christ!
Little children delight in the life that surrounds them. It is reported that a five-year-old laughs 113 time per day, but a forty-four-year-old laughs only 11 times per day.
G.K. Chesterton observes, “A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
Little children delight in the gifts of life. We ought to approach God and faith in the same way: Delighting afresh in every gift God gives to us.
Little children long for loving connection. When my daughter was young, she would get in front of me, stretch out her arms, and plead what I thought was, “Uppy!” (but later I learned was her attempt to ask, “Up please!). Today my young grandchildren love to climb on me or cuddle on my lap or in my arms. A natural desire rises from the heart of a little child to be loved and to be held. We ought to approach God in the same way: Seeking for God to pull us close to His heart and to fill us with His love.