Whenever Jesus’ disciples were caught striving to head to the front of the pack, Jesus would take a child, place this little one before them and say, “This is how I want you to be.” In one place Jesus is recorded as saying, “In all earnestness I tell you - unless you become like a little children you will not enter My Kingdom.”
I work with so very many christians who spend their lives striving, straining, manipulating, controlling, trying by almost any means possible to get ahead as the world defines getting ahead.
These people judge themselves not according to God’s standards but according to the world’s standards.
They find their worth in possessions.
They find their value in having achieved in business or education.
They find their security in wealth.
They find their sense of belonging in being liked by others.
I’m terribly worried for them because I think that Jesus, who “in all earnestness” warned them away from these things may very well say to them some day, “I never knew you.”
Cultivating status is one of the most useless activities that can occupy our time and effort. Yes money and knowledge can bring worldly power. Yes it feels good to be considered an “expert.” But all this as well as the game of one-upmanship that they bring are passing away and are of less than no account in the only Kingdom that counts. Competition is antithetical to the innocence of very early childhood, and innocence is what Jesus counts as highly valued; for innocence frees us of fear and worry and anxiety and anger. Innocence frees us from living lives that are shiny and appealing on the outside but are desolate, cold and anxiety-ridden on the inside.
“We are children, perhaps, at the very moment when we know that it is as children that God loves us - not because we have deserved His love and not in spite of our undeserving; not because we try and not because we recognize the futility of our trying; but simply because He has chosen to love us. We are children because He is our Father; and all our efforts, fruitful and fruitless, to do good, to speak truth, to understand, are the efforts of children who, for all their precocity, are children still, in that before we loved Him, He loved us, as children, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”