And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:3 (KJV)
Just what does this mean?
We have all seen or heard these words of Jesus referring to the conditions upon which we are allowed entrance into the kingdom of heaven. That is to say, our redemption is based upon this exceptional requirement.
Typically, we look at children as little people developing into adulthood.
When you grow up you can do this or that.
He or She is going to be a wonderful
_____ (fill in the blank),
when they grow up.
We stress this growth thing so much that even the child begins to accept that their current state just isn’t ‘matured’ sufficiently to reach their full potential as people.
When I grow up, I want to be _____.
Everyone, including the child, pushes hard on the premise that the child is inadequate, underdeveloped, and lacking what is required, therefore they must change. They must become adults.
Jesus didn’t see it that way.
What Jesus see’s in children is a complete acceptance of what he offers them. By their complete investment in trust, we see faith demonstrated in a way that is unrestricted and placed without reservation.
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (CSB)
Grace Through Faith
Not holding back anything, fully and uncompromising, reserving nothing, when a child places their trust in something or someone, it is an unequivocal and complete act of faith.
The very same act of faith that is expected of us to have that exception of grace imparted on us. Holding nothing back, full, uncompromised, with no reservation, surrender of our will to the will of Christ Jesus.
The very same faith and trust that Jesus demonstrated in response to the Father.
“I can do nothing on my own. I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”
John 5:30 (CSB)
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus tells us that it is ‘his will’ that we enter into a process that perpetuates discipleship and growth in his church. It reads, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (CSB).
Perhaps the simplest test is our willingness to be obedient to this directive.
If we indeed are coming to Christ Jesus with the faith of a child, then when we are faced with an instruction, so clear and direct, we would respond without reservation, without excuse, and without exception.
In fact, our response to this call would be ‘exceptional’, in that it would pull us out of the routines and practices to which we are accustomed to and focus on the task that is set before us.
Like a child, we would do everything in our power to do what we have been instructed to do. We wouldn’t wait for someone to provide us some glorious insight into the matter, we would simply take the understanding we have, and apply it to the issue at hand.
Instead, we analyze why we “can’t” do what Jesus tells us to do.
I’m too busy.
I have obligations.
I’m not skilled in dealing with people.
I need more training.
I have to work up to it
We have a battery of excuses why we can’t. Jesus is expecting the exceptional faith of a child trusting in him and his grace. He expects that we will act in obedience to what he directs us to. Yet, this one directive is perhaps the most ignored of all of Christ’s commands to us.
Yes, we can love, certain folks.
Sure we can forgive, most people.
I fellowship with others.
I pray, when I think of it.
But when it comes down to being Christ’s Disciple, spreading the Good News, leading others to know what we’ve come to know, and then disciplining them to do the same as we do, the same as Jesus did; our childlike faith is non-existent.
Brothers and sisters, this is a harsh reality. Repeating the words of Jesus, if we don’t change and become as little children, we will not enter his kingdom. We can’t pick and choose what we will or will not adhere to, we are to be all in.
If you love me, you will keep my commands.
John 14:15 (CSB)
We are to be his Disciples. We are to be disciple makers. We are to teach those new disciples to be disciple-makers as well. We must have the faith of a child and surrender everything to the will of Jesus, just as he surrendered everything to the will of the Father, to purchase our redemption, resulting in ‘Exceptional’ grace!
In His Grace,