At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:1-4
There is something special about children. They are literally just tiny humans, yet they seemed to be engaged in an entirely distinct world. What catches the eye of a child might never cross even the subconscious of an adult. They are keenly aware and captivated by pieces of everything. Children are beings who have been in the world just long enough to be aware of their surroundings, but not long enough to be desensitized by it. To children, the world is there and, yet, it is a mystery.
As I was walking into a Wal-Mart not long ago, I was walking past a couple with a small child. He was probably about two or three years old, being able to speak, but still very broken in his mannerisms. However, something had caught his attention. I don’t know what he was speaking of, but he was most definitely enthralled by something that he had just seen. “Woah! Did you see that, Mommy?! That was awesome! Daddy, Daddy! How cool was that?” And he went on and on to his parents about the incredible thing that he had seen.
I smiled and admired the innocence of the toddler as I continued walking. However, I began to think, ‘When was the last time that I was that excited… about anything?’ I honestly could not remember. Sure, I was excited about the Relient K concert I went to a few months back. And I definitely looked forward to the season premiere of Community on NBC. But, none of that could compare to the awe and bewilderment that filled this kid. I don’t know what he saw, but I’m sure it was not anything too out of the ordinary. It was as if it was not the object that caused his becoming so captivated, but rather, his perspective. I wondered if I had seen the same thing, if I would have been so in awe.
Then, I began to think of that passage from Matthew 18. Jesus that we must turn and become like little children. What did He mean by that? I think I caught a little bit of what Jesus was saying in that little boy at Wal-Mart. Jesus is not saying that we should be dumb, or immature, or anything of the sort. Rather, Jesus said, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Why doesn’t God excite us? Why are we not in awe of Jesus? Maybe we are adults who have become desensitized to it all. It is definitely not the Object that causes this lack of wonderment in us. Rather, it is merely our perspective. And I think the point that Jesus is getting at here is that we need to put away our pride and just be able to stand in awe of our God, like a child would. Perhaps He is saying that we need to be like children, knowing that God is there and, yet, He is a mystery. Maybe we need to acknowledge a healthy amount of uncertainty when it comes to the Divine. Then, we can sit back, stand in awe, be enthralled, captivated, and say, “Woah!” Yes, then… we could truly be like children.