This idea that children are sweet and innocent and valuable is a modern idea. In the ancient world, children were overlooked and unimportant. It is the influence of 2,000 years of Christian teaching that accounts for our culture’s belief in the inherent value and importance of children. The reason this is important is because it is easy for us to misunderstand when Jesus talks about children. From today’s scripture passage:
“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 18:2-5
The picture Jesus gives is not one of sweet sentimentality, but of humiliation: children were the unimportant, overlooked ones. They were the lowest of the low. So, to become like a child, then, is to be someone truly humble.
The next time you feel overlooked, ignored, or unimportant, remember: those who are overlooked, ignored, and unimportant are the people who are great in the Kingdom. A taste of humiliation can be used by God to prepare our character for the Kingdom. Also, that slight taste of humiliation is a gift from God, in that it enables us to share in the much greater humiliation of Christ.
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