September 26, 2020

Growing Up to Become a Child

Matthew 18:1-5

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

—  Matthew 18:3

What does Jesus mean by saying we need to “change and become like little children”? One clue we have here is that Jesus is responding to the question “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And he replies, “Whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

In the books about Jesus and his disciples (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), we find that the disciples often argued over which of them was greatest; they seem to have been a competitive group. And they were thinking of greatness in terms of leadership, knowledge, ­power, influence, and other things.

So Jesus is telling his disciples that they need to change their attitudes about greatness and become lowly and humble like little children. Jesus’ followers need to die to their selfish ambitions and realize that, just as little children depend on parents and caregivers, we are all totally dependent on God for all our needs and future living.

Here’s another thought. A man in his sixties said, “Last week my four-year-old grandson said he wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up. I replied, ‘And when I grow up, I want to be a four-year-old boy.’ My grandson stared at me with wide, wondering eyes.”

Have you looked around at God’s world with “wide, wondering eyes” lately? That’s something I long for when I hear the call to change and become like a little child.

Lord, please give us the humility and wonder of a child as we seek to live for you each day. Amen.

About the author — Syd Hielema

Syd Hielema serves the Christian Reformed Church in North America as director of a ministry project called Connections II. He has also served with Faith Formation Ministries, as a professor of theology and youth ministry at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa, and as a chaplain and professor at Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario. Syd has been married to Evelyn for 43 years, and they enjoy bird watching near their home in Ancaster.

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