My 7-year-old granddaughter loves to read the Bible. While reading Bible stories together recently, she suddenly remembered a story she wanted to talk about. She jumped up excitedly and drew it out on a whiteboard. (I had never even heard the story and had to slink off to check it out.) Her enthusiasm amazed me! What does it mean to have childlike faith?
Be Like a Child to Enter the Kingdom of God
Jesus never said the words “child like faith”, but instead spoke of taking on the attributes of little children to enter the kingdom of God.
When He says “enter the kingdom of God” (or heaven), He is not talking about our salvation. There isn’t one good work or personality characteristic that will get us into heaven.
“After John was put into prison, Jesus went into Galilee and proclaimed the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ He said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and hear the good news!'” Mark 1:14-15.
The long-awaited Messiah had come. He had come to break the power of sin in our lives and begin His personal reign on earth. We are a people of His kingdom, experiencing His love and blessings under His rule while we seek to become more like Him.
What is the Meaning of the Kingdom of God
This kingdom means a relationship with Jesus, trusting Him completely, and living our lives dependent on Him.
The kingdom of God can mean God’s rulership over the entire universe for eternity. When Jesus preached the kingdom of God in these passages, however, He was not talking about us going to heaven. He narrowed it down to His spiritual rule over our lives and hearts right now.
Jesus is telling us that to experience Him fully and do the good works He has planned for us, we need to have the pure and beautiful characteristics of little children.
It is exactly how He lived His life here on earth. He knew the ugliness and pressures of the world can diminish these necessary qualities.
He also explained it to the Pharisees this way:
“The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is’, or ‘There it is’, because the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21.
This spiritual “rulership” within our hearts shape our lives and relationships that comes through faith in Jesus.
Child Like Faith in the Bible
The idea of having a “child-like faith” comes from a few passages of Scripture. There are many examples about what it looks like and why we need it.
Faith Like a Child Scripture
“He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”
Just previous to this, the disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest in His earthly kingdom. They were being self-centered and prideful.
Jesus was explaining to the disciples that unless you become like a child, you can never fully experience all the blessings He has for you. The characteristics of childlike faith He is looking for are total dependence, full trust, and humility.
This Little Child
In Luke’s version of this scene, Jesus tells them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all- he is the greatest.” (Luke 9:48)
The world tells us that greatness is measured in social status, wealth, achievements in education or your life’s work, or even the number of likes on our social media accounts.
But becoming like a little child is humbly taking on their unconcerned nature of status and not live for prestige, promotions, or glory. “Success” isn’t even in the vocabulary of a child!
Jesus is our ultimate example. He was the greatest among them, but humbled Himself as a little child.
Jesus’ measure of “success” was in how many people He could love and serve. ♥
Jesus Blesses the Children
It was customary for mothers to bring their children to rabbis for blessings. The disciples saw people bringing their children to Jesus and “rebuked” them. This term was the same word that Jesus used when He “rebuked” the waves of the storm and cast demons out of people.
The disciples could not have been more wrong!
When Jesus heard, He called the little children to Himself and said,
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16.
What Does it Mean to Have Faith Like a Child
Jesus loved little children, and He welcomed them with open arms. He wanted the disciples to have the sincerity, humility, and full trust of these little ones. The children accepted His love and blessing with pure hearts, not because they thought they deserved or earned it.
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Unless You Become Like a Child
What are some ways we can become like a child and live out this child like faith?
It’s not as easy as it may sound. We have had time to form opinions, get ingrained in our ways, and live according to our own will.
A childlike faith does not mean we trust blindly as some assume. Jesus wants us to know what we believe and why. He wants us to educate ourselves, learn His word, and imprint it on our hearts.
How To Have Childlike Faith
Here are 6 ways to help us become more like children when it comes to our faith-
•Children ask questions. Lots of questions. (Sometimes too many questions!) Children want explanations, information, and answers to just about everything!
I love Isaiah 18:1, where God says, “Come now, let us reason together.” He wants us to experience His infinite wisdom and guidance. Our faith grows when we let our eager, child-like curiosity bloom.
How many times have you read something in the Bible and not truly understood it? Do you look for answers or just move on?
Do troubling times send you to His word for answers, or do you try to work it out on your own?
•Children see the world with wonder. Little things bring joy. Clouds become the shapes of animals. They keep pretty rocks as treasures. They need to inspect bugs and flowers closely.
Our lives are B-U-S-Y. We can overlook the beauty and wonder of God’s creation when we are stuck in necessary adult tasks.
Take time to value the small things in your life and be awe-struck with His physical world.
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.” Psalm 72:18 ESV.
Little children trust in their parents for everything. Jesus showed this same kind of dependent trust toward His Father.
When situations come up that we do not understand, do we show a childlike trust and dependence on our Heavenly Father?
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3 ESV.
•Children are natural “givers”– hugs, kisses, pictures they have colored, their “help” around the house, those pretty flowers… Showing love seems to come easily for them.
We have had years to build up walls, worldviews, and worries.
We should be childlike in the way we faithfully show Jesus’ love to others and serve them in His name.
“But if anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” 1 John 3:17.
•Children have big dreams– they aspire to be presidents and astronauts. It doesn’t occur to them that these things may not happen. They see possibility- not the impossible.
A childlike faith has the confidence that in God, all things are possible!
“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17.
•Seek His comfort when we are hurting. When children get hurt, they usually go running to their parents for comfort and reassurance.
Jesus turned to His Father for comfort and reassurance frequently. How many times do we see Him going off alone to pray? He was in severe distress in the Garden of Gethsemane, but praying to His “Abba” helped Him move forward and face His ordeal with calm courage. Do we follow this plan when we are hurting?
Having Faith Like a Child
Growing into adults takes the child-like faith and wonder out of our lives. We lose our innocent view of the world and can become fearful and anxious worriers. We can lose hope, get stuck in ruts, and let busyness keep us from investing time in our spiritual life. Instead of turning to Jesus for help and guidance, we try to go it alone, or turn to friends, activities, or unhealthy habits.
Jesus was clear on showing us how to live a life that gives us a bit of heaven here on earth. The key is becoming like a little child. He wants us to be humble, accepting, open, and as teachable as a little child.
I want to have the bubbling enthusiasm of my granddaughter- devouring the Bible and getting so excited about what I’ve learned that I would jump up to draw it out and share it with others!
Questions for Reflection:
How “child-like” is your acceptance, faith, and trust in Jesus?
This sinful and broken world can bring an end to our child-like qualities. Jesus is asking us to bring them back to our lives. Which ones do you want to prioritize in your life?
All Scripture is from the NIV unless specified otherwise
Photo Credit: Ralph Miller, AnnMarie Anderson, Canva