The Heart of a Follower of Jesus: Childlike Faith
“Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.” This is understandable, if you can imagine all of the crowds constantly pressing in on Jesus, people wanting him to bless their babies seems like it shouldn’t be his top priority.
Jesus isn’t Santa Claus, and he’s not a politician that needs to have photo ops with babies—so why should he waste his time?
But look at verse 16: “But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Jesus cares about the children, because he cares about all those made in his image. But Jesus’s point isn’t to give us a verse to use for why churches should have children’s ministries—Jesus is using them as a visual aide. It doesn’t mean that the kingdom belongs only to children, something like Peter Pan’s Neverland—it means that the attitude with which someone receives the kingdom of God must be childlike.
The Pharisees and their attitudes which were polar opposite to that of a child. They were cynical, defiant, and disobedient, set in opposition to God. That kind of heart will not enter the kingdom.
Jesus is pointing to the attitude with which we receive the rule of God in our lives. Trust. A child trusts and runs to his parents. Reliance. A child relies on his parents and depends on them for everything. Wonder. A child’s heart is full of wonder and joy.
We get this heart when we believe in Jesus. God gives us his Spirit so we can have eyes to see the beauty and truth of the gospel applied to us. Paul Miller, speaking of cynicism and faith, “Genuine faith comes from knowing my Heavenly Father loves, enjoys, and cares for me.” (A Praying Life)
The child learns from their parents that they are worthy of trust. They follow them because they know there is safety in their arms. Norman Rockwell painted a cover of the Saturday Evening Post where a father and mother are standing over the bedside of their child who is sleeping peacefully. The father holds a copy of a paper with headlines that read, “Bombings!” and “War!” while the mother looks worried. But the child sleeps.
But childlike faith is more than trust—it is delight. Watch what children do when they’re happy. They spontaneously giggle and clap their hands. They sing. They dance. They listen to stories over and over.
The faith of a follower of Jesus is a childlike faith.