“It’s adults that make the kingdom complicated.”~ Sylvia Mehegan
A short, simple sentence but one with so much truth. This quote has stuck with me all week, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.
I don’t think I had previously given this much thought. I can list several verses where Jesus tells His disciples to be like children in order to enter the kingdom. The term “childlike faith” is not uncommon to hear in churches. But what does it really mean to be like a child or have this “childlike faith”? Is the kingdom really simple?
At the beginning of this week, I sat down to write out all the verses I could find where the Bible mentions being like a child. After I finished, I stared at them for a long time trying to understand what it is about children that makes it so important for us to think like them. I tried to think of every possible thing that adults do that make things so complicated. 30 minutes later I gave up, almost frustrated, because I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it.
Tonight, I came back to the verses I had previously written down. Praying that God would open my eyes, I looked at them again and had to laugh at myself a little bit. The answer had been right there in each of the verses. Ironically, I think it was a bit of a lesson.
Learn this well: unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in. Whoever continually humbles himself to become like this gentle child is the greatest one in heaven’s kingdom realm.Matthew 18: 3-4 (TPT)
These verses, along with a few of the others I had written out, used words like “humble”, “teachable”, “learn”, and “wonder”. As soon as I noticed this, I understood.
In Matthew 18:4, Jesus tells His disciples that unless a person humbles themselves, they cannot enter the kingdom. There are a lot of different meanings for the word “humble” depending on the context, but in this passage, Jesus is specifically talking about learning. When He says we have to humble ourselves, it means we have to be willing to admit that we don’t have all the answers.
I love how the beginning of verse three in this passage says we have to “dramatically change our way of thinking”. It is SO true. Being humble is not easy and it involves not only shifting out mindset, but also our behavior. It’s not something that can happen passively. We have to actively change the way we think and how we view ourselves.
That is such a hard thing for me to do sometimes. In fact, it often takes being in some pretty nasty situations for me to remember that I need help and that I don’t know everything.
But, in the process of humbling ourselves, we become teachable. This is where the “childlike” way of thinking begins. Kids don’t know everything. Sure, some kids can be know-it-all’s (I can almost guarantee I was one), but overall, kids are always learning new things. Have you ever seen the look of amazement on a child’s face as they learn something mind-blowing to them? When a kid learns something, it’s exciting. More than that, it’s awesome. THAT is what it means when Jesus tells us we have to be like a child.
Our Father has so much He wants to show us about His kingdom realm. It’s not hard to understand, but we have to be willing to learn. In the same way a child takes time to stop and gaze in wonder at the beauty and mystery of things like a snowfall, a starry night, or a massive display of toys, we should be taking time to stop and stare in amazement at the glory and wonder of or God and His incredible creation.
The kingdom is not complicated unless we try to figure it out on our own. A child can’t read even the simplest book if he doesn’t know the alphabet. If we are willing to be taught and guided by our loving Father, understanding the kingdom is truly a simple thing.
Father, help me to always be teachable, and fill me with a deep desire to learn and understand Your perfect love, creation, and kingdom.
(Additional verses [TPT]: Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:5, Matthew 11: 25-26)