Jesus began many of His exhortations with that expression. As was His practice, He used those words to challenge conventional wisdom. His followers today would do well to follow His example.
You have heard that it was said, “take it like a man”, but Jesus said take it like a child. More accurately, He said, “whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
There can be a lot of discussion about what it means to “receive the kingdom”, but it’s pretty clear here and in other places (the previous verse, for example) that Jesus approves of those who come to Him in a childlike manner.
The question, then, is what does it mean to be like a child in this context? I’m going to eliminate messy, greedy, and obstinate as potential candidates since those are never shown as exemplary at any other point in scripture.
So, how does a child receive the Kingdom? Probably the same way she receives any gift:
- with trust
- with gratitude
- with fresh eyes
- with an open heart
- with excitement
- with joy
- without bias
- without a sense of entitlement
- uninterested in what others think of his reactions
- without questioning the giver
- with curiosity
- with awe
- with creativity
- dependent and unashamed
- with humility
I’ll be the first to admit that not every child embodies all these attributes all the time, but they’re typical of a childlike (note: not childish) reaction. We’ve all observed these traits in the best of times and I’m guessing Jesus was thinking of some of them when He told us to receive His Kingdom like a child.