Entering and experiencing the Kingdom (cont.)…
Three) We must receive the Kingdom of God like a little child. The gospel writers record Jesus’ words on this subject: “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:17; Mark 10:15; see also Matthew 19:14; 18:3) This requirement is somewhat similar to our previous requirement. In fact, in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, these words precede the account of the rich young ruler. It’s as if the ruler was the real-life object lesson of what Jesus was teaching in the lesson of receiving the Kingdom as a little child! Generally speaking, to “receive the Kingdom like a little child” refers to two essential aspects in our relationship with the King.
First, we notice that Jesus is focusing on “child-likeness” as trusting someone on the most basic level. Being a child is a life of dependency – as children must rely upon others (usually their parents) to meet their needs. We observe, however, that there are distinct differences in how children and adults go about trusting others.
For example, a child might trust someone who is offering them a gift of money… and just simply take it. Adults, on the other hand, would question the motives behind such a gift, looking for some ulterior meaning behind the offer – and probably just end up saying, “no thanks.”
In the offer of the gospel of the Kingdom, God is offering something of extraordinary wealth and provision – but it is something that must be received with a simple trust. If we think about it, the gospel is really an unreasonable offer. Why should the God of heaven, the Almighty Ruler over all things, ever offer such a wonderful gift (i.e. salvation) to us faulty and corrupt humans? One would reasonably think that there just has to be a catch. There must be a hook in the offering somewhere. This thinking is more common than we might first imagine. Human beings have a tendency to reason our way right out of receiving the Kingdom of God.
The ability to reason is a gift from God, but it can be a dangerous gift. We can use reason to grasp and understand what we have received from God, or we can use reason to “push God” out of our lives. The world is populated by a great many highly reasoning people who have no room for God, or His Kingdom, in their lives. Truly, intelligence does not insure a grasp of truth. Human reasoning can often get in the way of receiving the simple truth of God – and of receiving the Kingdom.
This was the focus of the apostle Paul as he was inspired to write: