Child-like Faith? Or Rich-Man Faith?
Interesting…. Immediately after recording Jesus’ warning to His disciples that “anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:13-16), Mark tells the story of a rich man who misses out on entering the kingdom of God because of his unyielding attachment to his wealth. In this account, Jesus warns His disciples that it is easier for a camel to squeeze through “the eye of a needle” than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:17-31).
Could it be that what caused this rich man to miss out on the kingdom of God was that he refused to receive God’s kingdom like a little child?
Here is an interesting and relevant reality about little children: Little children are uniquely tuned to the voice of their mother and will not allow any rival to distract their attention away from the primary focus of their love.
The website http://www.babycenter.com points out, “Amazingly, babies may be able to recognize their mother’s voice even before birth. A study done at the Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington found that babies in the womb actively listen to their mother’s voice during the last ten weeks of pregnancy. Then at birth they can distinguish between the sound of their native language and a foreign language, suggesting that moms are their babies’ first language teachers.”
Science Daily cites research showing the unique bond a newborn child has with the voice of her or his mother and concludes, “‘This is exciting research that proves…that the newborn’s brain responds strongly to the mother’s voice and shows, scientifically speaking, that the mother’s voice is special to babies,’ said lead researcher Dr. Maryse Lassonde of the University of Montreal’s Department of Psychology and the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre.”
Could it be that what we need to imitate about a little child’s faith is the determination to focus our attention on the One who brought us into being without being distracted by any rival to our true Maker?
The problem with the rich man who met Jesus that day—and who turned away from Jesus in deep sorrow—is that he has lost his focused attention to the voice of God; he allowed rivals to steal away the devotion of his heart. He fell in love with his riches; they took over the highest interest of his heart.
Though this rich man lost his love for his Maker, Christ did not lose His love for this man. Mark 10:21 makes this clear: “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”
Because of His love for this man, Jesus speaks the hard truth to him. Jesus stresses that his man must receive the kingdom of God like a little child, with undivided attention to and devotion to the One who made him. He must turn away from the riches that have become a false god and a false parent to him.
Indeed, Jesus explains that it is “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Some have suggested that the “Needle’s Eye” was a low and narrow gate beside one of the main gates of a city. During the day, all the trade and traffic would pass through the larger gate, but at night the main gate would be shut and locked and guarded so that no invading army could sweep into the city. But the low and narrow gate, the “Needle’s Eye,” was normally left open, allowing an evening straggler to come into the safety of the city walls. This low and narrow passage was barely large enough for a man to walk through. For a camel, it was even more difficult, yet it could be done—but only if the camel was stripped of its treasures then led through upon its knees.
To enter the kingdom of God, we must give up all rivals and give undivided attention and loyalty to our true Maker—the One who loves us enough to have died for us.