There are many who accuse Christians of being childish; a more apt description, however, is that we strive to be childlike.
What is it about children that is so worthy of emulating? Why did Jesus, when asked who was the greatest in the kingdom, point to a child?
Jesus specifically mentioned the humility of a child. As in other places in scripture, spiritual humility is cited here as being much more preferable than grasping and competing and asking the question, "Am I the greatest?" (I'm looking at you, disciples!) To put ourselves last, as children often seem naturally capable of doing, is one of the things that God is looking for in our lives.
Innocence is also prized in the kingdom. In vs. 6-9, Jesus tells us that we must strive to keep ourselves pure and certainly not corrupt others. One spiritual advantage that children have is their innocence.
If you are reading this, however, it is likely that you have lost some of that innocence along the way. The world has a tendency to take it from us. What hope do we have then, if we are no longer like the child that Jesus commended?
Jesus closes this section on "little ones" by sharing the parable of the lost sheep. A shepherd who has 100 sheep will pursue that one who gets lost and goes astray. He will even leave the other 99 to go in search of his missing sheep. And, when he returns, he is filled with more joy over finding the lost one than over the 99 that never went missing.
To me, this is a parable of hope. With God, there is true forgiveness, mercy, and restoration. As I write to other "lost and found" sheep in the kingdom, I hope you are encouraged to know that there is joy in heaven over your salvation. You may have lost your childlike humility and innocence along the way, but thank God that, with Jesus, you can have it once again!
Don't be afraid to be childlike in your faith!