Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3) Become like little children? What a concept! Of course, many Christians think they understand what Jesus meant. Children have an innocence and trust that most adults have lost. Kids have a bigger dose of faith than the rest of us, generally. And while this is of course an excellent application of Jesus’ wisdom, I think there is more to it.
I left my water bottle in the car the other night, and the next morning, as I contemplated the cold air outside, I didn’t really want to go get it. So, I asked my little brother, who’s five, if he wanted to retrieve it for me(yes, I was being lazy, but that’s not the point here). He didn’t protest even a little bit. Instead, he quickly said, “Okay!” and happily set to it. And it was so adorable to watch him clomp out there in his pajamas and rain boots to fetch me my water bottle. I felt so loved.
We often consider little kids to be selfish. And they are, it’s true. Children can be the most self-centered beings on the planet. One of their first phrases is “I want.” They scream and throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want. They can be the bane of a parent’s existence. But they also have a huge capacity to give of themselves. Every now and then, family members get the joy of glimpsing a little piece of Heaven in their children. Every child, I think, has a purity in their soul that comes out in a desire to please people. Children really and truly love to make others happy.
As I watched my brother bring me my water bottle that morning, cheerfully remarking that he was cold, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this is part of what Jesus meant. Maybe part of becoming like a little child is truly giving of ourselves. Perhaps it’s learning to love unreservedly. Could it be that part of being childlike is forgetting our own happiness for a moment in order to focus on others?
Jesus said that you must become like a small child in order to enter His kingdom. So perhaps we need to stop thinking like adults sometimes and remember that “me” does not need to be our first thought. There are many others out there in this big world besides you and I, and, like my brother, maybe we all need to learn to look for ways to please. Maybe we need to love people with pure hearts and no expectations.