Jesus tells his disciples to let the children come to him because the Kingdom of God belongs to people like them. And so we try to figure out how to become more like children. But what does that mean?
Anti-intellectual ... no. Curious ... maybe. Trusting, innocent, hopeful, easily surprised, high capacity for delight, bringing no personal merit ... who knows?
We could spend a lot of time trying to figure out and emulate child-like faith. But what if that was never the point?
When I look at the grammar of the passage, Luke 18, I wonder if we aren't missing something:
But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.
Reading it, you can see why Christians starting asking questions about child-likeness. The kingdom of God belongs to such as these. If we could only become "such as these," the kingdom of God will belong to us.
But read closer. "Receive the kingdom of God like a little child" could have other meanings.
Think about it ... where do you position yourself? Are you the child, receiving the kingdom of God? That's the traditional interpretation. Who else could you be?
What if you were one of the disciples? You had just been chewed out, gently, for failing to receive children. Are you going to put yourself in the place of the child or in the place of the person receiving the child?
Still not clear?
Let's add some words ... the traditional reading adds "receive the kingdom of God as if you were a child or in the same way a child receives things." What if we read instead "receive the kingdom of God in the same way you would receive a child"?
Would that be useful?
Instead of wrangling with what child-like faith looks like and trying to have it, what if we tried to receive the kingdom of God like a child? You know how to receive a child ... or you can figure it out.
How do you receive children?
This post is one of several reflecting on Luke 18, which the InterVarsity Florida Divisional Staff Team studied during one of our days together this Fall. Don't worry, this is the last one from DSC.