In Matthew 18, Jesus’s disciples asked him who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus’s response was to call a child and placed him in their midst. “Unless you become like a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus explained further, that anyone who had the humility of a child and to also received a child in his name, would be greatest in the kingdom. Jesus was clear that a person who caused a young child to sin, was better off having a millstone placed around his neck and drowned into the sea. A similar reference to becoming like children is likened to being born again.
“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour, requires child-like faith and a surrender of our selves. The salvation experience puts us unto the path of a new life and being born again, makes us infants in Christ. As we grow in faith, we develop Christlike maturity, but only after we have first taken on the position of children. Jesus also made mention of the angels assigned to small children. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
In the very next chapter, people brought children to Jesus, so that he could lay his hands on them and bless them. The disciples put on quite a disappointing show, given the lesson that Jesus had just taught them in chapter 18. They rebuked the people, “but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven”” (Matthew 19:14). In other words, Jesus was happy to receive the children, because their disposition was likened to the kingdom of heaven.
The reference to being like children is not in relation to being childish. To be childish refers to being immature, while childlike in the spiritual sense, refers to humility. Childlike faith requires that we believe what Jesus says. Earthly knowledge can lead to pride and arrogance. We have to remember that the wisdom of men is foolishness to God. Many people who know a lot and consider themselves to be highly educated, can sometimes struggle to wrap their minds around the things of faith. In knowing more, sometimes people know less, because earthly wisdom can cause a person to think that they have all the answers.