“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17
A little child is—joyful, guileless, trusting, dependent, eager, forgiving, curious, fascinated, playful, fearless, innocent, loving.
Are those the qualities required to receive the kingdom of God?
But what if joy, innocence, and all the rest, are wrenched from the toddler by thoughtless, self-centered parents?
Some of my psychotherapy clients are wary of relationships, don’t feel much self-worth, and are afraid God won’t pay them any more attention than their parents did.
So what does Jesus mean when He says to receive His kingdom “like a little child?” We adults can’t just set aside the weight of life: can’t cut out the thoughts and feelings burned in our brains that make love and trust a challenge.
Picture a child reaching up to Mommy or Daddy.
We were all born with that innate need to be picked up and held. Then picture some big, I mean really big, hands reaching down to pick you up—fulfilling your need.
I’m no biblical scholar, but it seems to me Jesus is saying simply, “Reach up to me. Come.”
O come, little children, O come one and all,
To Bethlehem haste, to the manger so small,
God’s son for a gift has been sent you this night
To be your redeemer, your joy and delight.
from the Christmas carol, “O Come, Little Children”