Have you ever been arrested? Not by the police, but by the Word of God. It happened to me the other day. I was reading through Matthew’s Gospel, my usual chapter a day. But when I got to Chapter 18, I was “arrested” by Jesus’s warning to His disciples: Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3 NIV).
The word used in this verse for change means to turn in a different direction, or “to repent.” What keeps me from becoming like a little child? In what ways do I need to repent? I pondered the question.
The next verse gave me a clue. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom (Matthew 18:4 MSG). If I truly want to see the kingdom of heaven and if I want to have kingdom impact here on Earth, I have to become simple.
I can think of a lot of words to describe my life, but simple isn’t one of them. Can you relate? We live in an incredibly complicated world. It’s busy and noisy with to do lists and deadlines. But simple? Who can afford to be simple? Jesus knew His words would hit hard.
I decided to do a little “research” of my own. I was sharing a cup of tea one afternoon with my four-year-old granddaughter, who was feeling quite grown up as she carefully balanced the delicate china cup and saucer on her lap. “Guess what Jesus tells grownups,” I said to her. “We have to be like little kids if we want to know Him better. Why do you suppose Jesus likes kids so much?” She just looked at me for a minute as if to say, You should know that answer. And then she said matter-of-factly, “Because they are so fun to play with.” It was that simple. Period.
In the eyes of a child, Jesus is not only God of the Universe and Savior of souls. He is also their friend. He actually likes children. They know it. My granddaughter’s natural assumption? Jesus likes her, not because she’s wise, or rich, or in control. He likes her just because she’s who she is. He likes her simple faith in Him. And probably because she’s fun to play with.
In this busy, complex world, I must repent if I want to become simple. Yes, it’s simple to believe in Jesus. To depend on Him. To trust Him like a child. Simple, but not simplistic. It takes courage to believe. Humility to admit my need for His forgiveness. And I have to wrestle to the ground all the doubts and fears that attack my mind. All the clutter that robs me of clarity. So I can see Jesus. I have to get back to simply believing in Him. Like a child.