He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 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.”
Once he became a man and left the nest, it was as if he was a miner bird reciting the same line over and over again. Mom would call and ask him if he had been eating correctly, and he would remind her that he was now a man and that she did not need to care for him as a child. Whenever he visited her, she would try to slip a few dollars in his pocket just in case he needed them. Again, he would remind her that he was now a man and could take care of those needs himself. Years passed, and the mothering which initially seemed charming now became a nuisance. He took offense to the fact that she always saw him not as a man but as her little man, as her child. It was not until he had children of his own that he finally understood why he would always be mom’s little man.
I think many of us have a tendency to approach our spiritual growth the same way we have approached our natural growth. As kids, we always try to assert ourselves as being bigger and older than we are. We do not want to be treated as children even when we are children, so we certainly do not want to be treated as children once we are adults. The little boy is always clarifying that he is a big boy now, and the little girl does the same. We can take this same tack spiritually by thinking that our maturity in Christ over time moves us to some next level or position. We say that new believers are babies in Christ, but we have moved beyond that. While spiritual maturity is something to be gained and is expected that we gain, that maturity should over time make us realize more and more that spiritually we are only babes here.
This childlike nature that Jesus says is required to be part of God’s kingdom has many facets to it. We want to approach God with open faith, believing and trusting in his word the way a child believes and trusts in the word of a parent. We also want to approach others not as being greater than them but as holding them in higher esteem than ourselves. One component we often miss is the fact that we are spiritually limited in this place. No matter how wise we become and how much of God we come to know, we can only be spiritual children while in this system of things as there is infinitely more for us to learn. When we approach God, let it be as children seeking knowledge and wisdom from their father. Father, give us the revelation and humility required to occupy the lowly position You have for us with the knowledge of the kingdom reward to come.