Sending for a child and putting him in the midst of His disciples, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:2-3). On another occasion, He said, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Matt 10:15). These teachings were not meant for the multitude but His disciples. They had quarreled over who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. They had forbidden children from going near Jesus. Though they had followed Jesus for some time they had not changed. They were still carnal. The Lord wanted them to be reborn; to be like children.
To be like children, one must he born anew. Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus by night and spoke to Jesus on matters concerning the kingdom of heaven. Jesus told him that man must be born anew in order that he may enter the kingdom of heaven. However, Nicodemus could not understand that. He asked, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Then Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit” (John 3:1-8).
To be born of water is to be baptized in water. To be born of the Spirit is to receive the baptism of the Spirit. So only after we have been baptized in water and have received the Holy Spirit that we can be like children.
Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Matt 16:16). As such, the first step of salvation is to believe and baptize. Paul endorsed this further by saying, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is free from sin” (Rom 6:3-7).
But how are children like? Children love their parents. In the eyes of a child there is no one more dear than his parents. His parents may be ugly, wearing dirty clothes, living a very hard life, staying in a shabby house, suffering from material wants, yet he would love them. If a very rich person were to buy him lots of toys, beautiful clothes and all sorts of sweets and candies do you think that this child will follow him? No. The child may like the things he can give but he will not give up his parents for them - for he loves his parents above all.
We are children of God. We must love our heavenly Father. The Bible says, “And to you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30; Psalm 73:25).
Children will not depart from their parents. Giving a lost child sweets to eat and toys to play may pacify him for a while, but soon he will start to cry again, until he finally finds his parents. Therefore, we must not depart from our heavenly Father.
Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and tin him, he is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Indeed, we are nothing if we are detached from the mercy and grace of God. We can do nothing. Paul said, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or perils, or sword? ... For lam sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35-39). No matter what happens or under any circumstances we must not leave our true God.
Children rely on their parents. Even so, we must rely on God for God is love (John 3:16; 1 John 4:8). The love of God for us is even greater than the love of our parents. So, the person whom we can rely on is our heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, our true God. The Bible tells us that the Lord is our refuge and our fortress. He will deliver us from the snare of the fowler. He will give His angels charge of us to guard us in all our ways (Psalm 91:2-11). Prophet Isaiah tells us that if we put our trust in God we shall live in perfect peace (Isa 66:3). Very often we see our brethren relying on human effort rather than on God when they meet with difficulties. This is very wrong. Paul says, “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).
If we can put our trust in God, He will surely send His peace and blessing to us. David trusted the Lord. He took only a staff and five smooth stones with him to fight the giant Philistine. David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled” (1 Sam 17:45). Eventually David killed Goliath by simply relying on God. There¬fore, if we can be like children, entrusting everything to God, God will care for us and fulfill our undertakings (Psalm 37:5; 1 Pet 5:7).
Children love their brothers and sisters. If someone were to suggest to a child that his baby brother or sister is to be given away, he will be very angry. He is not willing to lose any of his brothers or sisters The church is the house of God (1 Tim 3:15). Everyone who repents and is baptized is a new born babe of God (John 1:12-13; Jas 1:18). The love of a little child for his brother is pure, there is no guile.
Peter said, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart” (1 Pet 1:22). But it is sad to note that there are brothers and sisters who appear to be full of faith, who serve the Lord diligently but who dislike a brother or a sister. To them, the Bible has this to say, “If any one says, ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21). So, if we truly love our God, we should be like little children, pure and without guile, loving our brethren in all purity. If we love one another then the world will know that we are His disciples (John 13:34-35).
Children like to imitate their elders. Children learn from their elder. They see what their elders are doing and they will also do. Likewise, the Lord Jesus wants us to be like children so that we may learn from our fathers. Paul says, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). And, “Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us” (Phil 3:17). The Lord Jesus Himself also says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise” 5:19). And Peter says, “For to this you have been called, because of Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Pet 2:21). Therefore, follow the examples of our Lord and the apostles.
Finally, children do not love the world (1 John 2:15-18). They are not proud and they have no ego (Jas 4:6). They have no part in evil doings (1 Cor 14:20). In short, children are innocent. They are pure and without blemish. Their nature is very close to God’s. May the Spirit of the Lord Jesus fill us to help us become like children..