Luke 18:15-1715 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But 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. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
One of the first songs many of us learned was, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Many years of working in Haiti have served to cement in our hearts that all children are precious in God’s sight. They bear God’s image, require our instruction, demand our time, and deserve our affection.
Yet, I can understand the disciples reaction to children crowding around Jesus. Jesus doesn’t understand it, doesn’t like it, and rebukes the disciples for “hindering” the children from coming to him.
The disciples are saying, “Hey kids, you can’t come to Christ until you are grown up.” Jesus flips the script and says, “Actually, you can’t come to me unless you are like these kids.” In countless ways, children cannot grasp the complexities of life or the layers of various situations. But in other ways, because of their pride and cynicism, adults often make things far more confounding and confusing than they ought to be.
Jesus is not saying this because kids are more innocent than adults. A cursory reading of Romans reveals that all are guilty, young and old. So, Jesus is not saying you must be like a child to receive the Kingdom because children are pure and haven’t screwed their lives up nearly as badly as adults. I believe Jesus is saying that to receive the Kingdom, a person must have faith like a child.
Children trust their parents. A baby goes to her mother’s breast. She knows innately that is where nourishment and life are found. A toddler doesn’t sit there with a furrowed brow on Christmas Day, contemplating whether or not he should open a gift from his parents, wondering what the catch is, tormented that he doesn’t deserve it, or skeptical that something doesn’t add up. No, he rips it open because he trust that his mom and dad will give him good gifts.
Now there is a reason that adults are not this way. Life has a way of teaching us hard lessons. We don’t wake up one day and decide to be suspicious of everyone and everything, there are reasons behind our distrust. But that is a result of living life in a fallen world with sinful people. It is not because God is not generous, gracious and patient with us. It is not because God does not value us or have time for us or treat us unjustly.
The scenario with which we can possess child like faith is not that life becomes as simple and problem free as it seemed when we were a child, but that we trust Romans 8 when Paul writes, “If God be for us, who can be against us.” Wow! The more I meditate on that, the more every single problem and pain in my life is put into its proper perspective. God defends his own. God takes tremendous care of his people.
Having childlike faith is something I think most of us had to some degree when the full force of the Gospel hit us. We were in awe and amazed. We trusted the truth of his love more than we have ever trusted anything else in life. We lose childlike faith when we allow the weightiness of the world and the lies of the enemy to lull us into trusting in ourselves rather than God. Adult-like faith is full of platitudes, owns all the right books, can say all the right things but is empty of power.
Where is our trust? Where is our confidence?
It is important that we provide for the physical needs of children in giving them food and shelter. It is equally essential that we invest in their education to equip them for the future. It is imperative that we teach them how to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. But if we study these precious little ones closely ourselves, if we see how they trust us, who are weak and flawed and inconsistent, then they might just teach us a thing or two about childlike faith and how we ought to trust our Father in Heaven who is powerful and perfect and faithful.
Then things might start to seem much simpler than we’ve made them.