“Children don’t know about sin, and that’s why they go to heaven. Grownups know about sin, so they get a choice,” says Taylor, 8.
Taylor, I concede that your sins are not as sophisticated as those of some adults, but I’m sure your track record isn’t perfect. Have you ever disobeyed your parents? No further questions.
“You can learn more stuff as a child. A child is smarter than an adult,” says Hoss, 7.
Most children learn at a faster pace, but this doesn’t make them smarter than adults. Hoss, God gave you parents to guide you. They know more than you, and that’s a good thing.
“I think it means that if you act like an adult, you think you’re too good. But if you act like a child, you would want to go to heaven,” says Grace, 10.
An inflated sense of one’s goodness keeps a lot of people out of God’s kingdom. Jesus told religious leaders, “Tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31).
Jesus turned everything upside down. Those who appeared to be the least likely candidates entered God’s kingdom before those who were sure they would be first in line. What’s going on here?
“I think Jesus meant we have to come to him like a child,” says Amanda, 11. “We don’t have to say special words. We need to be like a child and not talk fancy. Then, we can go to heaven.”
Fancy words, religious rituals and clerical garb may impress people, but they don’t influence God. He sees the heart. God knows we can deceive ourselves into believing we’re good enough to make the grade for heaven by our good works. Jesus is trying to send us a wake-up call so we won’t substitute religious stuff for the simple, childlike faith needed to enter his kingdom.
“I think Jesus meant that you must humble yourself as a child does,” says Ally, 12. “He meant that you must be ‘born again’ and become like a kid with a new start. Or he could have meant that we must be like a child who trusts and loves his parents. We should trust and love God like that.”
Ally, you’ve got the picture. In a normal home, children survive by trusting their parents. Small children don’t have the experience to make wise choices. Jesus came to Earth to tell us about a benevolent Father and a kingdom in which righteousness and justice prevail. Jesus declared that he was the only way into that kingdom.
“Jesus meant that you will never get into heaven unless you truly believe that he died on the cross to forgive us,” says Grace Marie, 10.
Martin Luther said faith that results in being declared righteous before a holy God is like the hand of the beggar reaching out to receive a gift. Before God, we’re all beggars. The Lord Jesus offers us a gift. We must receive his offer by the faith of an empty hand that offers nothing in exchange.
Small children don’t have a problem receiving gifts. Every Christmas, we’re reminded of this. This same capacity or humility carries over into the spiritual realm. Some studies have shown that as much as 85 percent of Christians trusted the Lord Jesus as their savior before the age of 14.
Think about this: God wants to be your benevolent parent. You must come to the place where you receive his offer of eternal life with the humility of childlike faith. Memorize this truth: “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Luke 18:17).
Ask these questions: Have you entered God’s kingdom with childlike faith? If so, are you walking with God with childlike faith and wonder?