Our Lord Jesus said, ” I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven “(Matthew 18:3). In Mark 10 we read, “I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (v.15).
The reference to children is not an exhortation to return to childhood. The thought is not that if we were not converted and brought to faith as a child we are outside of the kingdom of God. The instruction of our Savior speaks to the attitude of heart.
We acknowledge that it does not take a child long to grow suspicious and to ask, “Why?” Nevertheless, the point is clear. At whatever age we are, we are to have the simple, unquestioning faith of a little child. A little child accepts what mom and dad say. It does not cross its mind that mom and dad would tell a lie. Unfortunately evil men play on this simplicity of little children to abuse them.
Nevertheless, in matters of faith we want to have such a child-like faith. A child may ask about Jesus. But when the answer is given, he believes. He believes that grandfather or grandmother is in heaven with Jesus. His mind is not cluttered with all the doubts and questions that clutter the mind of adults, who analyze, rationalize and so often reject the Lord and His Word. The faith of a little child is born anew of the Spirit through the power of baptism and the Word. With faith that it cannot even explain it implicitly trusts what God says. A little child believes the Word of God, just as he believes mom and dad. In this way a little child is often far ahead of the intellectual, the philosopher, the theologian, the so called “wise of this world,” who are cumbered with an insatiable necessity to question and doubt the Word, and even to argue with God. Humble trustfulness characterizes a little child. He has no inclination to doubt. If only adults could sing with child-like confidence, “Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so …!”
How much better off we would all be if we observed a child and learned from him. As one man wrote, “A king’s child plays with a beggar’s child, and neither feels above the other or beneath the other” (Lenski). Pride, arrogance, and pursuit of legacy so often characterizes the pursuits of adults. A child doesn’t even wonder if others will like him or what others will think of him. The point of comparison is not innocence, but ingenuousness, the absence of arrogance, simplicity, and humility.
Finally, a little child does not wonder what he has to do to get to heaven. He believes that “Jesus is the Savior who died on the cross to save me from my sins.”
In a sense, it is too bad that a little child grows up so quickly and adopts the mind of rationalizing adults. That child is truly blessed who under the Spirit resists a false intellectualism and maintains his child-like faith through adulthood with all simplicity, and trusts in the Word of God. We pray that being as little children in our faith and Christian life describes us. Let the world laugh and scorn, for it is those who hold such faith or whom it is said, ” Of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). The Lord said it. Blessed are they who believe it.