Become Like Children

Become Like ChildrenAt that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” –Matthew 18:1-5

This week, we returned home from a trip to California to visit my son, daughter-in-law and grandson Nico, especially Nico! It was wonderful and I got to spend plenty of time with this 16-month old non-stop energy dynamo.

I’m exhausted, but in a very positive way and have a new appreciation of what it takes for young couples to raise little ones. It seems the older we get the more we push those sleepless nights, never ending diaper changes and meals that end up on the floor out of our memories!

I recalled that just before I left for California, I read the gospel of Matthew that said we need to become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. So, what is it that makes children better candidates for heaven? What are the attributes that Jesus is talking about that we need to model?

“Childlike surrender and trust, I believe, is the defining spirit of authentic discipleship.” –Brennan Manning

As I observed Nico over the next few days, it all became much clearer to me. Here are a few things that I observed about little children:

  1. They live in the present. The most important thing to a child is what they are doing right now. They aren’t depressed because of some event of the past or anxious about something they must do tomorrow. They simply aren’t concerned about anything except the Legos or puzzle or book right in front of them.
  2. They practice unconditional love. Children have the ability to be happy no matter what. They can go from crying to giggles in a matter of seconds, completely putting out of their mind the reason they were crying only moments earlier.
  3. They are humble and meek. Children totally submit to their parents, rely on their parents and trust their parents to be there when danger is near.
  4. They live in simplicity. Children accept thing as they are, they don’t question things or become jealous of others homes, cars, or income.
  5. They are full of awe. Children have a pure heart, taking in everything around them with wide-eyed awe. Their first trip to the zoo, playground or water park is experienced with pure joy.

“It is the childlike mind that finds the kingdom.” –Charles Fillmore

So, what can we learn from them? What are the things that Jesus is suggesting when he says we must be like one of these children?

Like children, we need to live in the present. We need to understand that living in the past causes depression and living in the future causes anxiety. We must be mindful of the moment and live each day to its fullest.

In doing so, we must practice unconditional love. Our joy often comes from serving others, being there for family and friends, and being less judgmental.

We need to be humble and practice gratitude, kindness and forgive others. We need to be grateful for what we have and not spend valuable time being jealous of others.

And, we need to simplify our lives and view the world with the same awe as a child.

Most importantly, we can’t do this on our own. We need to have that same humility and total trust for God that our children have for parents and grandparents. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that Jesus has our back, if we only submit to his loving touch.

It’s amazing what you can learn from a 16-month old child. If we turn away from self-reliance, away from sin, to a simple, humble, awe filled, loving life, we can prepare ourselves to enter heaven and maybe, like a child, experience heaven on earth.

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