The Trumpet Sounds: ‘Become Childlike’

By Barry Pettit - Religion Columnist

I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. Mark 10:15

The Kingdom of God is only for those who come to Jesus in the humble dependence and trust of little children. The Kingdom of God belongs to them, not because of merit, but because God’s will is to give it to them. Here is an important contrast of what men think is important, and what God recognizes as worth. Often people say that children are only children – that they are often in the way or they are out of place. But divine intelligence and love sheds a different light upon these little ones. Children are living parables of the Christian spirit. They are constantly associated with Jesus. We as adults often seek knowledge, wealth, titles and social standing, and these accomplishments, more often than not, stunt us spiritually and take our eyes off our Christian walk. To counter this is to have the humble dependence and trust of little children.

Jesus loves children! While He was on earth He had no greater joy than being among them. He put them up front, He laid His hands on them, He blessed them, He invited them into His presence, He held them lovingly in His arms, He called them lambs of His flock, He provided spiritual food for them, and He called them His faithful followers. Jesus reproved His disciples when they tried to prevent a child from having access to Him. Jesus reminds us that children are precious in our Heavenly Father’s sight, preserved by His providence and protected by His power. Jesus not only opened the gates of His Kingdom to children, He also took the child as a type of the true disciple. Through His dealings with children, Jesus teaches us that if we wish to enter His Kingdom, our spirit must be a child-like spirit.

So what is this spirit? It is the readiness to accept what Jesus tells us. The ideal child is teachable: they will learn because they are ready to receive, they have not discovered the way of distrust and rejection. Children digest the truth that has been offered to them. Many people who have all the advantages of Christian privileges often stand outside the Kingdom because they will not receive the truth that is offered; their mind is occupied with theories, systems, and imaginations of their own. They seem to know a great deal; they even believe themselves to be very knowledgeable, and even bring up puzzling and confusing arguments by asking questions that many people, even Christians, can’t answer. This unfortunately is something I have experienced on several occasions. Many of these people refuse to accept the truth; their main objective appears to be argumentative and egotistical. They have an abundance of facts, laws and theories at their command; they even seem to be wise, but their knowledge is very small in comparison with all that can be acquired through the wisdom and teaching of God. The responsibility falls on these people as it did on us to walk in the spirit of meekness and humility as little children toward God.

Those who do not accept the word of God, who will not surrender to a divine Savior, who will not walk the path of righteous service, but expect at the end of their lives to enter heaven because of their good works, are in for a rude surprise. Because these people did not enter the Kingdom of divine truth, they have shut themselves out of the Kingdom of God. At present they do not even have their feet on the first rung of the ladder of wisdom and learning, and will not enter heaven unless they become like children, and come to the Father with a humble spirit and trustingly say, “I am very ignorant. Will you teach me?”

A child is straightforward, uncomplicated, transparent, sincere, and they say exactly what’s on their minds. Children are real. This is what God requires of us – truth in the inner parts, sincerity of spirit. God is not impressed when man walks in holiness that is not genuine, when a man simulates repentance but it doesn’t come from the heart, or uses the language of humility while pride is living within them. We must be like those children who mean what they say when they come into God’s presence.

The answer is: just like the children who run into the protection of their parent’s arms where they confide all hopes and dreams, so is the soul of mankind invited to commit itself and all that it has to the Almighty Savior and say with implicit child-like confidence and self-surrender, “Jesus I need you.” This Sunday at South Side we will unpack how we need to become like a child. Worship begins at 10:45, and we would love to have you come worship with us!

In Christ,

Barry Pettit

South Side Church of Christ

By Barry Pettit

Religion Columnist