…The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:1-5 NIV)
While I was at the park this afternoon with my children, that verse came to mind. I said to myself: “Wow, it really is this simple, isn’t it? Children want to be seen, heard, and they are so curious about everything.” That’s what it means to have a mind like a child. To stand in the present moment with confidence in your curiosity.
I realize others have interpreted this verse, and verses like it, to mean to have blind faith. And for a time, I was convinced of this interpretation too. Unfortunately, children do not cater to the notion of blind faith. Children, in fact, are the most inquisitive and curious creatures on the planet. They are filled with doubt, and they demand explanations. They are never satisfied with one answer. They receive an answer, and 40 more questions follow. And sometimes, the proceeding questions have nothing to do with the previous answer given.
Of course, many people believe that to “enter the kingdom of heaven” means to travel to some far-off place, after your physical life has expired. But for those of us who dig deeper beyond the surface of simple text, we have come to understand that heaven isn’t a place you go to later. Heaven is a mindset that you enter while you are living in your physical form, here on earth.
I would like to point out, that taking a “lowly” position such as having the mind of a child, isn’t a degrading or hierarchical position. A “high” position, especially in our current society, speaks to an idea about our education or our academic achievements. In some cases, it speaks to the way we seek out knowledge and the pride we hold for ourselves when we convince ourselves that we know all the answers.
Too often, people with higher education believe themselves to be better than those without college degrees or letters behind their names. And typically, what follows, is an overwhelming fear to ask questions and challenge those who have higher positions or higher education. Standing in confident curiosity can get you canned from your job if you question an authoritative process. A child, however, is exempt from the expectation to know everything. When a child asks a question, it’s considered “normal.” When an adult asks questions, many assume that the adult is stupid.
Children are born ignorant. That’s not a moral judgment, it’s just a fact. Cognitive development takes time for the mind of a child, so they are led by curiosity, they are filled with inquiry, and they continue to question everything and seek explanations for their experiences. What’s more, if a child was told one thing, and you contradict what you said, say change a rule or a discipline with another child, they take notice. They call you out, and they demand an explanation. Children have this impeccable and intrinsic nature in that they keep adults honest.
Of course, this does not mean that we give decision-making power to children. While I recognize that my children can help keep me accountable for my own actions; I won’t cause them to stumble and pretend that they know enough to make decisions that may impact the rest of their life. Jesus is clear in his follow-up:
“If anyone causes one of the little ones to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble!” (Matthew 18:6 NIV)
What’s wrong with blind faith? Many believe there is no danger in just accepting what has been told to them. But does blind faith benefit anyone? Consider the last few years, most American citizens placed blind faith in institutions that led them astray or led them to vaccine injury. Many questioned science, medical procedures, political protocols, irresponsible spending, and damaging shutdowns. The individuals who maintained a mind like a child were shunned, harassed, accosted, abused, arrested, fined, or fired. Late-night comedians suggested that those who did not blindly follow the “science” or the advice of institutions that cater to corrupt influencing should be banned from emergency services in hospitals and forced out of their jobs.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones.” (Matthew 18:10 NIV)
It seems to me that despising another for not having all the information or for daring to ask a question has been the trendiest of trends—both inside and outside of the church. Within the medical community, the scientific community, and even in the political arena, curiosity is often seen as a disease. It’s no wonder that so many people would rather remain silent than asking questions.
I think it’s more important than ever to revert to a child-like mind. It’s time we brought curiosity back into the fold. It’s time to stop causing others to stumble. Let us be so bold as to question everything we have been told. Truly, I tell you, to stand with confident curiosity is the way we enter the kingdom of heaven.
“Question with boldness even the existence of God, because if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.” Thomas Jefferson