But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and 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." – Luke 18:16-17
Of all things for Jesus to tell you to become like, he insists on you becoming like a child as a prerequisite for entering the kingdom of God. Think about that! Jesus could have called you to become someone really powerful, a person to be reckoned with, someone of “significance” and influence. But he didn’t call us to become warriors, kings, or heroes. Instead, his first call you and I is to become childlike which is not the same thing as being childish.
Why childlike? Simply put; children are needy, dependent, and vulnerable. They cannot provide for themselves and therefore require others to provide for their basic necessities. Jesus’ instruction to you today is to remember your need for his gracious provision.
Neediness isn’t the only thing there is to being a kid. Children are also filled with wonder, questions, and adventure. Finding Rolly Poillies under rocks, digging around in creek-beds, wearing out slip n’ slides, afternoon popsicles, and getting grass stains are all part of the job of being a kid. My mom, who was an elementary school teacher for over 30 years is quick to point out, “Play is the serious work of a being a child.” She’s right. Perhaps taking a moment to recover the wonder that is your life would be good for your soul today.
Lastly, children keep time very different than we adults do. Kids usually aren’t thinking a whole lot about yesterday and they’re really not too hung up on what’s coming tomorrow. More often than not, their only real concern is the “right now.” Yes, they had ice cream yesterday. Yes, they’re going swimming tomorrow. However, it’s the right now that really matters. In a word, children are in the present. Yesterday is behind and tomorrow isn’t here yet. Be a kid today. Be yourself. Be present.
“God defines himself as ‘I am who I am’, which also means: My being is such that I shall always be present in every moment of becoming.
— Hans Urs von Balthasar, Unless You Become Like This Child, p. 55