Luke 18:17 “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
The Japanese translates this, “cannot enter,” but this time it’s the NIV, backed up by various other English translations, that really makes me think. We do well to consider how a child receives things, in contrast to how an adult might do so. If you offer a child something that seems attractive to them, they accept it, generally with delight. An adult, on the other hand, might calculate what strings might be attached, or even whether they are worthy to receive such a thing. The reason we have to accept the kingdom of God like a child is that it is literally going to cost us the world, since we have to let go of the material to take hold of the spiritual, and we could never be worthy of receiving it in our own right. A little child doesn’t think these things. If they trust the one offering the gift and it seems attractive to them, they take it, period. In this fallen world that can be dangerous for children, since all too many people are not trustworthy and the devil is adept at making evil glitter. That’s why Jesus had such severe words for those who “cause little ones to stumble.” (Luke 17:2) We need to exercise clear discernment when it comes to things in this world, but rejoice to receive the things of God like wide-eyed children.
Perhaps the reason this verse speaks to me so strongly is that I know people who decline to receive salvation precisely because they are too “adult.” Tragically, I have lost some close friends who fit into that category. We have someone who has attended this church for over 10 years and won’t accept Jesus as Savior and Lord precisely because they don’t want to give up a particular pleasure, and at the same time they don’t feel worthy because of that very pleasure. I have never confronted them about that activity, but they have been exposed to Christianity for over 50 years now, and that seems to be their position. They continue to come to church because we welcome them, and they are lonely. I need to keep praying that they would have the courage to act as a little child and receive what their Father is offering them, in all simplicity.
Father, You never said that getting the Gospel across to people would be easy. Help me never give up, but keep speaking Your truth in love so that as many as will may enter in, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!