Children are “greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven”
by Jacob Juncker
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ 2He called a child, whom he put among them, 3and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:1-3, New Revised Standard Version
As many of you know Chandra and I welcomed into our home a newborn foster child nearly a month ago. We’ve been going to the doctor each week for regular check-ups. She is now one month and four days old and, as of yesterday, has gained two pounds, seven ounces. She’s growing and thriving! At one month old, she is an eating, sleeping, crying and pooping machine (usually in that order, then it starts all over again). This cycle is necessary for her to grow; and, it is like this that we are to change if we are to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
I’ve heard countless sermons and read countless commentaries about how becoming like a child means one must trust and rely upon God like a child relies upon his/her parents.
But, what if the analogy is even more elementary? Children are not yet fully grown. What if, to become like a child, means one grows and thrives on that which the parent supplies? To be like a child means that we grow in the grace God freely supplies. We grow with humility, not boasting about how far we’ve come (or “big we’ve gotten) but knowing how far we have yet to go until we reach adulthood.
4:1 I therefore…beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
11The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ
Ephesians 4:1-15, New Revised Standard Version
I know I’ve only been a “parent” for one month, but it is quite miraculous to watch a child grow. It is truly awe-some to see “your” child meet developmental milestones. God, as the supreme parent, must rejoice to see his children grow and mature in grace. God must find joy in seeing God’s children become like Godself (Christ). Therefore, let us strive toward what pleases God: let us strive toward maturity.