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.” And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: `Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said, “All these I have observed from my youth.” And when Jesus heard it, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard this he became sad, for he was very rich. Jesus looking at him said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! –Luke 18:16-24
There are many characteristics of children that come to mind when thinking about why Jesus would say we need to be “like a child” to enter the kingdom of God. The one that comes to my mind most often is trust. Children are very trusting, particularly when they are around 4 years old. When an adult tells them something, they believe it, especially if it’s their parent. Parents have such great knowledge in a 4 year old’s eyes. As well, the child has little to no meaningful experience of being hurt or let down. So the child trusts the parent implicitly. Not just what they say, but for everything. A 4 year old does not worry if the mortgage will be paid on time. Food, shelter, clothes, protection, love and anything else they need. Mom and dad will take care of it. No worries.
Are we like that with God?
In the passage from St Luke above a ruler asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”
Jesus’ response is surprising. After all, He is God. But I think that’s His point. He wants those around Him, as well as us who read this Gospel, to remember that Jesus is God and God alone is good. Jesus then tells the man to follow the commandments. When the man said he does follow them, Jesus says he lacks one thing. He needs to put God first.
Many of us think this is about giving away all you own. Not exactly. It means that all you have must come second to God. God musts come first. Trusting God like a child and not trusting in our possessions to make us happy. In addition to following all the commandments (not just the ones we find easy or the ones we agree with) we must become like a child and trust God to take care of us. This often means we need to follow God’s commandments even when we fear doing so will cause us harm, pain or loss. When we do, Jesus promises “you will have treasure in heaven”.
Trust God to take care of you. He alone is good. No worries.