**** This is an excerpt from Captivated by Christ: Focusing on Him published in 2008.  This post is for a fellow servant who minsters to children in so many ways and who amazes and humbles me with her Christ-like love for them.

 

In Matthew 19:13-14 we find a compelling story that shows how Christ relates to children: “Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Though people are quick to analyze and argue over nearly every aspect of Christ’s ministry, one fact cannot be denied. The Lord loves and delights in children! His ministry is replete with encounters with little ones, teaching us that not only did He love them but was loved by them as well. In Mark 10:14-16 He held and blessed them. John 6:9-10 describes how He used a child’s lunch to feed thousands―an act which left no doubt that even a child can be used of God. Jesus also healed and even brought children back to life (Mark 5:21-42). And, perhaps most tellingly, His entrance into Jerusalem was greeted with their shouts of praise (Matthew 21:15).

So what can Christ’s attitude toward children teach us? First, I think it suggests that much about a person’s character is revealed in the manner in which he or she loves and provides for children. After all, as Christ-followers we should bless them as He blessed them. Matthew 18:5-6 says, “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Secondly, I feel the Lord’s words and actions regarding little ones prove that we are wise to learn from children themselves. Consider the characteristics of a child: relative innocence, humility, an attitude of dependence, trust, wonder, and awe. Do we not need more of these characteristics as lovers of our heavenly Father? Indeed, by observing children we can learn of the Kingdom of God. We too can learn to approach spiritual concepts with wide-eyed wonder and sighs of excitement.

In Matthew 18:1-4 Jesus’ disciples asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” I believe this interaction between Jesus and His closest band of followers contains the powerful truth that dominated Christ’s every interaction with little ones: All humans need childlike trust and sweet submission in order to gain entry into God’s kingdom.

Jesus taught many concepts that characterized childlike faith.  He said that His followers would be poor in spirit, meek and pure in heart (see Matthew 5).  In turn those simple believers will receive the Kingdom of Heaven, will inherit the earth and see God.  That’s what happens when we approach Him and trust in Him like children.

Jesus came to us as a child, and we must come to Him in a similar manner. That means laying aside  pride, cynicism, worldly attractions, self-reliance and spiritual doubt.  We must experience an enthusiasm for God that models a child’s view of life.  We must longingly look to Him for what we need while trusting that He will provide. We need to gaze upon Him with a simple sense of wonder and awe.  We need to humbly submit to His divine and sovereign authority   He is sure to respond to such a childlike approach.

Our hearts’ desire should be to become more childlike so that we may be drawn to Him, more fully experiencing the presence of His paternal majesty.  Our loving Father awaits us.

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