Read Matthew 18
OK, we have heard about how great John the Baptist was as far as men who walked the earth went and how even the least in the kingdom of heaven are greater than John. But the disciples wanted to know who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
What’s it going to look like when we are in the kingdom? How do we stack up against each other? Are all those crazy remarks that Peter made going to count against him?
Jesus didn’t give the disciples the starting lineup. He didn’t give them an app that updated heavenly status. He said, take this kid for example. If you want to be great, you need to become like little children.
You don’t become a child again but you become like a child. Nicodemus couldn’t get his head around being born again when he talked with Jesus but in this explanation of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus doesn’t tell his disciples to become children but become like them.
Jesus noted that this was a prerequisite for entry. You don’t need a membership card to get inside. You need the heart and mind of a child.
You need innocence, acceptance, forgiveness, and a teachable spirit.
We must set aside the corruption that we have learned and embraced from the world. No one is immune. No one is exempt. No one has passed beyond being vulnerable.
We must set aside our condemning nature. I don’t care how long you have followed Jesus or how many commands you get checked off before 9 am, you still wrestle with a nature that condemns others—even other believers.
As a child, you accept the things of God because they are the things of God. You don’t have to check the nutritional value, the profitability, or the extended warranty. If it is of God, then you accept it.
The child may be too young to truly understand forgiveness, but not too young to practice it. How many young children even know how to hold a grudge? A child may feel hurt and cry or run away and a moment later they are embracing the one who hurt them laughing and playing and enjoying life.
A child wants to learn. Some are inclined more to words and others to jumping and climbing and others to math and analysis, but all learn something. All take joy in learning.
The proverb reminds us to train up a child in the way he should go. The child will learn something. We are charged to make sure children learn God’s things.
We must become like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven. I’m not sure if that means we do or don’t have to clean our own rooms.
Jesus notes that whoever welcomes a child in his name also welcomes him. Not only must we become like a child but we must welcome those who have also become like a child.