Kids are cute? Who says? Kids cry. They argue and fuss and fume. Kids are often dirty, often impatient, often demanding. Honestly, the only thing worse than kids is the adults they grow into!
A church that I attended early in my adult life, during years that I had small children at home, used to have that “kids are cute” mentality etched onto their brains. Mostly this attitude was maintained by grandparents and other people who didn’t have kids at home. These people didn’t attempt to teach kids in Sunday School, they didn’t sit with kids during service, and they didn’t struggle to coax cooperation out of kids 168 hours during the week. Those people would smile and parrot back a particular teaching of Jesus without giving much thought to the paradoxical nature of it.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “So who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child and had him stand among them. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.–Matthew 18:1-4
I can remember people from the “Kids are Cute” Church stroking their chins and affecting a look of profound wisdom. “And why are children great in the kingdom of heaven?” they would ask. They’d pause for effect. “Because children are humble.” Then they’d look at you as if they’d just imparted the most amazing truth. Never mind that the idea of humility is right there in the passage.
The people at that long-ago church were nice enough, but they were a little too enamored of their own learning. They knew better than all these foolish teachings of the old fashioned Christianity. They tended toward the “Serene Jones” view of the gospel. And that fact gets me to my takeaway for this teaching on the kingdom of heaven.
- The kingdom does require humility and a childlike level of dependance. Just as a child would have a very difficult time surviving without adult help, the child of the kingdom cannot hope to survive with God’s provision.
- The kingdom, on the other hand, does not require a great deal of knowledge.
As a person with many years of education, with a number of letters stringing off behind my name, I’m eager to believe that you really have to know a lot to enter the kingdom. But if a child can do it, then the knowledge must not be the key. Children know very little. They can’t read. They can’t explain the difference between free will and predestination. They certainly cannot intelligently discuss the concept of penal substitution.
Yet there they are in the front row of the kingdom.
When we seek the kingdom, we are not primarily seeking knowledge. Knowledge is good, and Jesus never suggests that His followers remain as unknowledgeable as those children. You can learn a great deal, but when your learning causes you to move out of childlike dependance on God, you’ll be drawn to that former church of mine.