And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. Matt.18:3
A Definition of Greatness
When we see the words of Jesus in Matthew 18, we marvel at how little children play a special role in God’s Kingdom. “Whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” These words by Jesus ought to blow apart whatever prideful definition we have of greatness.
It is so easy to measure a person’s greatness with his or her accomplishments, especially if done for the Lord. However, as much as the Lord is pleased with the crowns we will lay at His feet, I’m sure that He treasures the moments we come before Him with our hands empty, only wanting His presence the way a young child craves his or her father’s time and attention.
Back in Time
Let’s think back to the time when we were children. Wasn’t it easy to spend hours and hours lost in the things we loved—even if we didn’t see all our toys in the physical dimension and just imagined them? It was so easy to believe that an empty large box was an airplane that could fly! It was so easy, too, to trust and think of the good intentions of others, even if they were from candy-giving strangers on the street. As for accomplishments, whatever monuments we built like sandcastles or “tiny car” garages were quickly dismantled as we built again and again for the sheer fun of creating.
But as we grew older, we started to see that no, the world is not that kind. Not all the hours are enjoyable. Not all people are to be trusted. Everything we make can be cause for joy, yes, but also for jealousy if we’re not careful. As for the sheer fun of simply creating something, we find our happiness diminishing with the threat of deadlines and stinging comments and the revisions needed to suit someone else’s tastes.
Yes, we grew up.
Unfortunately, whatever jadedness we picked up also lent to our perception of God. Can He be trusted after all the bad stuff that happened to us when we transitioned from childhood to adulthood? Can we simply go to Him and believe in His goodness? Are His words 100% true? Does He still heal when sickness is all around us? Does He really love me? When the Bible says that He cares, does He really care?
And slowly, we find that the awe we had as children turned into an “I believe, but…”
Pure Childlike Wonder
The bigger “BUT” to all our jadedness is that the Kingdom of Heaven is real despite what we think or feel. Jesus knew that for a person to believe in something he or she cannot see, childlike faith is needed—for faith happens when we believe what we cannot see. Belief in a God we cannot see and in a Kingdom more real than the physical world, necessitate the suspension of a pragmatic view that merely says, “What you see is what you get.”
We must have the pure wonder of a child– a child who can get wrapped up in the reality that there is a Father in Heaven who loves us without a shadow of a doubt; a Father who sees everything happening to us and who intimately involves Himself in our lives.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” Jesus says in Matthew 5:8. If we are experiencing jadedness or unbelief, or a “hardness of heart” toward God, His Word, and His ways, let’s do the wisest thing there is to do: Let’s ask God to give us childlike faith and awe toward Him and toward the matters of His Kingdom.
Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow, black & white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.