Updated: Jan 7
Matthew 18:1-5 (ESV) At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,[a] it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
I was the youngest of three kids growing up until at the age of 14 my mom had a surprise sibling who took from me the personal title of being the youngest. My two older siblings were 2 and 4 years older than me so they were at school during the day for a few years before me. She did not work and my dad spent long hours working so I had a couple of years where it was just my mom and I at home. I remember, and my mom would tell you, I just following her around whatever she was doing to ask a lot of questions. How many questions I wondered. I was trying to guess.
Researchers seem to have found that curious children ask a staggering 73 questions every day ... half of which parents struggle to answer, according to a study.
All I recall was giving her a barrage of who, why, what, when, where and how questions. These were the days where my mom did not have the luxury of Google to go to for answers so either she would say she doesn’t know or I’m sure she made up some great sounding answers on the spot.
A list has been made of parent’s top 10 most challenging questions:
Why do people die?
Where did I come from?
What is God?
How was I made?
What does “we can’t afford it” mean?
Is Santa Clause real?
Why do I have to go to school?
When you die who will I live with?
Why is the sky blue?
Why can’t I stay up as late as you?
Children ask LOTS of Questions! This is common knowledge. Some Christians say that if you have childlike faith you don’t need reasons or explanations for what they believe. But as we know children ask, are inquisitive, eager to know more. To have “faith like a child” or “childlike faith” it makes sense that this kind of faith is not blind or without asking lots of questions.
When people say they don’t need to ask questions about their beliefs it seems that this is not childlike. Childlike faith is often described as a faith that does not doubt, question, or seek explanations; it just believes. But this cannot be childlike faith.
Children ask questions…lots of questions. So what is childlike faith?
Having worked many years with children and raising three of our own I have determined that childlike faith is not about the avoidance of questions. So I see that “childlike faith” is actually a faith that asks lots of questions. I love to hear questions from children. It actually means that they are eager to learn. Let’s help them do that but let’s also keep that childlike quality ourselves until the day Jesus takes us home.
It is important here to recognize that the term “childlike faith” is not even found in the Bible. When people refer to “childlike faith” or “faith like a child,” they have in mind the sorts of things Jesus says in Matthew 18:3, Mark 10:14, and Luke 18:17, where He teaches that the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children.
Matthew 18:3 "...and said,“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Mark 10:14-15 (ESV) But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them,“Let the children come to me;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.”
Luke 18:17 (ESV) Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
But in these passages, Jesus is using a child to describe what a person can be like to enter the kingdom of heaven. It can involve a child’s faith but it can also easily involve many other childlike attributes.
Jesus is encouraging His listeners to humble themselves like a child and receive Him like a child (Matt 18:4-5; Mark 10:14) if they want to see the kingdom of heaven.
In other words, there is something essential about the childlike perspective for the person who wants to see the kingdom of heaven. What is this childlike perspective that Jesus has in mind?
Seeing the kingdom of heaven is not about life after death, but about living and experiencing God’s life in this life here and now. This is what Jesus has in mind when He teaches about becoming like a little child. Experiencing the life of God in this life requires humility like a little child. It means maintaining the wonderful and beautiful characteristics and qualities of children that life in this sinful world tends to beat out of us. Let’s keep the child in us alive.
Being like a child would be someone who would ask a lot of questions, being inquisitive, not remaining ignorant. God gave us Scripture so that we might learn, grow, mature, reason (Isaiah 1:18).
Isaiah 1:18 (ESV) “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
We can all become students that reason with the Lord, disciples or disciplined followers of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:2).
Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
2 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV) You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
Let’s look at some great childlike qualities we could all use more of in our adult lives…
· Wonder and awe.
· Playfulness and humor.
· Being willing to learn and grow.
· Tenderness of conscience.
· Openness about emotions and feelings.
· Creativity and imagination.
· Eternal hope.
· Easy forgiveness.
· Undying love.
· Boundless exuberance and energy.
· Always thinking the best about life and other people.
So accept the charge from Jesus this week to look for and receive this invisible Kingdom of God. Make this Kingdom known as you move and live in this world that desperately needs it and the King who rules it…Jesus. Teach your inquisitive children what it means to be a true follower of Him.