Matthew 18:2-4 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.
We have seen big shifts in the role of children over the ages. In the 15th century the phrase "children should be seen but not heard" became cliche.
But as we all know times have changed. As one website notes,
"Seen and not heard? Not any more. Children are at the center of all big family decisions in the modern household
92% of parents routinely involve their children in family decisions. But two thirds say they weren't asked by their own mother and father Decisions include where to go on holiday and what to eat for supper. Camping trips are out: 53% of children say a tent stay isn't a holiday. Personally on this last I am with the 53%!
But though opinions on children have changed over the years, Jesus is very consistent in his view of them.
Matthew 21:15-16 "When the Pharisees got mad at the children for shouting Hosanna to The Lord", Jesus said, "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, " 'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise?"
And today we have the most defining statement regarding Jesus' view toward children. "Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3
So what is it about children that Jesus thinks so much of that he would say, if we don't become like them we can never enter the kingdom of heaven. That is a very strong statement. I don't think he means we should become childish or immature. But he does say to be "child-like". Some of the clues might be that it is in the context of the disciples asking "who is the greatest in the kingdom". And then he gives them another clue when he says, "whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven".
So we might conclude that becoming like a child means being humble enough to enter the kingdom on God's terms, not ours. The Pharisees could not enter the kingdom, because they thought they could control and manipulate it.
Do you have a child-like faith? Do you trust the true road to greatness is though humility and trusting in someone greater than your self? This is completely counter cultural, and in opposition to the kingdom of this world. How could becoming child-like help you to have more access to God's kingdom power? Another question you and I might ask is, "Where does pride and self reliance keep us from entering God's kingdom?"
With Jesus' view in mind, "maybe children should be seen and heard!"