“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”
The general attitude of society towards children has changed massively in the past 100 years. There was a time when children were to be seen and not heard, and the proponents of this opinion would be outraged at the thought of children being so opinionated and holding so much influence in a typical family today.
In Jesus’ day, children were considered unimportant. While He was teaching one day, some parents were bringing their children to Jesus to have Him bless them but the disciples rebuked and discouraged them. We can only surmise that they saw this as wasting His time or somehow inappropriate. However, Jesus turns the rebuke back on the disciples and encourages the parents to bring the children that He might bless them.
A powerful lesson is given in Jesus’ reply, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it”. It would appear that Jesus is suggesting that childlikeness is an essential characteristic for everyone who enters the kingdom of heaven. Before we have a think about a few qualities of childlikeness, it’s critically important that we understand that there’s a world of difference between childlikeness and childishness.
Childishness in a person of any age is such an ugly thing. It is characterised by selfishness and stubbornness and when things don’t go their way, they throw a temper tantrum and make a scene.
Childlikeness, on the other hand, is a most beautiful quality and is even found in some quite mature people. It is characterised by trust, dependence and teachableness. You will easily identify these childlike traits in a mature Christian regardless of their age. Even though they may have been walking with the Lord for many years, they still depend on Him for everything, they trust Him in every situation and will readily admit that they don’t know it all!
Unfortunately in many parts of the world today, children are still seen as unimportant or of little value. Millions live in extreme poverty and are denied the opportunity of an education and many are victims of abuse or exploitation.
Many of our ministries throughout Asia are reaching children through literacy and feeding programmes all with the intention of sharing the hope of the gospel with them. When we begin to see children as Jesus saw them, we will understand more fully their worth and dignity as image–bearers of God. Our heart for this ministry is driven by Jesus words in Mark 10:14, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”