There are so many verses where Jesus specifically talks about us being "like a child". Let me show you a few:
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3 ESV
"Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Mark 10:15-16
Because entering heaven is at stake, we have studied these verses and tried to understand what exactly it was trying to say. What is it about children that we should learn to be like. Christendom has arrived at these conclusions and to be honest, they're not half-bad:
- Children are quick to believe. With "child-like faith" we say. They have huge imaginations and very little unbelief.
- Children are slow to offense and quick to forgive.
- Children instinctively know how to worship. Jesus quotes a psalm saying "out of the mouth of babes you have ordained praise"
Look, I've said it before. Layers. I'm not saying I'm right and these are wrong. The eternal Word of God has no beginning and no end just like He who spoke it. There are layers. I want to share the deepest layer I've found.
The Lord has been showing me how to read chapters in the bible and hear the larger narrative. There is a loud narrative in Mark 9. It actually begins with the transfiguration account. You know the story. Jesus takes Peter, James and John and they witness Jesus looking like the Jesus in the book of Revelation– glowing. Elijah and Moses appear. Peter says he wants to build a tent for each one. Then this:
And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
Here's my question to you: who was the Father speaking to? Jesus? No, he was talking about Jesus. Moses and Elijah? No, they have run their race. This voice was for the benefit only of Peter, James and John. Ultimately, it is for our benefit, but at this moment heaven opened to speak to these three because it was that important. What is the key message? I've heard so many teachings about this so I asked the Lord this morning. Here's what I received.
“This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
We should listen to Jesus because he beloved, and he is a Son. Of course he is THE Son. Of course his endorsement carries with it the fact that he is the One and Only Messiah. But look closely: Beloved. Son. Listen.
Later on in the same chapter we see the disciples arguing among themselves about who is the greatest. To end the argument here's what Jesus did:
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
Remember that this is in the same chapter. Look at the elements. You see Jesus saying in indirect words to be like a child (last of all and servant of all). Then he embraced the child. And talked about receiving the child.
Beloved. Son. Listen.
There are many qualities of a child we need to emulate. But there is only one message I see here that the Lord is burning in my heart: Just as he was The Son, we are sons. Just as he was Beloved, we are beloved. Just as the world needed to hear him, the world needs to hear us, precisely because we are beloved children of heaven.
A few days ago the Lord told me: what is it that I can do that you cannot do? I knew he was referencing John 14:12
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
He was showing me: "I have given you my authority. I have put the same Spirit that raised me from the dead inside you. I have cleansed you from all unrighteousness. What is it?" Why can't we do what he did when he has supplied all he has? And today he is adding to that list.
I am beloved. I am a child. I will be listened to.
To be like a child is to recognize what all children recognize: they are somebody's. They are a "child of". They're not "adults" who have an identity "apart from". When you really think of it, children do not have an identity apart from their parents. The Lord wants you to be the same. Beloved, heaven wants you to know that you are its child. This is what it means to be like a child, and this is why you "cannot enter" otherwise. You need to know you have a Father who loves you and that you are his. Know it the way Jesus knew it. The Father endorsed the Son and He endorses you with his very own Spirit crying out inside you as you read this:
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6
Abba means Daddy. There is no distance with the word Daddy. Only the knowledge that you are the Beloved.
Daddy I know someone is reading this right now and the Spirit of sonship in him or her is crying out and bearing witness. Sear your identity in them. Show them that they carry your name like a surname. Let them see that they have the endorsement of heaven just like Jesus did. Twice you spoke audibly calling him a Beloved Son. Tell my reader they are a Beloved Child. May the Spirit of Sonship cry out even MORE within them. I pray they are listened to. Received. That they never lose their identity of being your beloved child.