Today we read one of the most beloved passages of the New Testament. Jesus, in the midst of his busy ministry of preaching and teaching, is suddenly surrounded by children. His disciples are annoyed and rebuke those who are bringing the children to Jesus, but Jesus lovingly invites the children into his presence and announces that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. The disciples are then exhorted to receive the kingdom of God like a child.
At times, we are so caught up in the beauty of a particular biblical passage that we miss the profound implications the passage brings to bear on our lives. For so many people, their childhood was not a happy time, but rather a time of aloneness and uncertainty. Consequently, it is often difficult for these individuals to openly and freely receive the kingdom of God like a child, because they never truly experienced the joy and abandonment of being a child.
It is important that we make a distinction between childlike and childish characteristics. We are called to embrace and cultivate a childlike faith and attitude toward life and particularly our relationship with God. We are also called to put away childish ways and to mature into the full stature of Christ. In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, "when I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put away childish ways" (1 Corinthians 13:11). Paul is speaking about old behaviors and patterns, such as selfishness and lack of responsibility, that are "put away" as we grown and mature both physically and spiritually.
Jesus calls us to receive the kingdom of God like a child. Meditate on the following list of childlike characteristics. Identity areas of healing and future personal growth:
- Emotionally open
- Quick to forgive
- Willing to try new things