For the Kingdom of God to be manifested as God originally intended, it must begin with you and me. The Kingdom mandate began with Adam in the garden and was restored in the last Adam, Jesus Christ.
How can we hope to communicate that reality to others if we, as individuals, have not yet entered and experienced the Kingdom realm? We cannot expect others to go beyond where we have not yet gone.
In this post, I want to present yet another aspect as a prerequisite related to making manifesting the Kingdom of God a reality.
Entering the Kingdom as a Child
To manifest the Kingdom, you must first enter the Kingdom yourself like a child. The Lord Jesus Christ loved and welcomed children during His earthly ministry. In one Gospel account, children were being brought to Him “so He might touch them.” (Mark 10:13) But, from the disciple’s viewpoint, children were a bother and not to be tolerated in such an important ministry of the Kingdom and they “rebuked them.” What was Jesus’ response?
But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14).
He was “indignant.” He was very displeased with His disciples and let them know that in no uncertain terms. I can imagine His voice tenor, volume, and changed facial expression communicated that clearly. And then He taught His disciples an important truth: the Kingdom of God belongs to children such as these and if the Kingdom is not received “like a child,” that person “will not enter at all.” As if to make His point clear and absolute, the Greek text records His words to include a “double negative” (ou me) and could be translated directly like this:
“Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child in no way will that one enter.” No latitude. No discussion.
The Matthew account adds another element:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1-4).
One must be “converted and become like children” in order to “enter the Kingdom of heaven.” Converted means to turn and, in this context, v. 4 adds “humble” to further explain conversion from self-pride (who is the greatest) to humility before God. In this sense, one becomes like a child as a condition to “enter” the Kingdom.
Interestingly, the Greek verb translated “converted” is in the passive voice which indicates that being converted is not something we do, but an inward change of heart by the conviction of the Holy Spirit and then, surrender. The idea of personal performance before God is absent. It’s a state of heart and mind that is in view here.
Why did Christ use children as the example of who can and who cannot enter the Kingdom of God? Think back on your childhood. When I was a child, I never thought about whether I was going to eat the next meal. I never feared that I was protected. I never doubted that I could enter the house of my parents at anytime or run to them if I needed to for anything.
Watch children on the playground under the watchful eye of Mom or Dad. They are joyfully playing. They trust their parents and are free from worry. Children are uncalculating and teachable.
This is in contrast to the wealthy landowner in the Mark account (10:17-25) who, although sincere, could not follow Jesus without giving up his possessions. He calculated the cost and yet, “Jesus felt a love for him” (10:21), but explained to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God.” (10:23) Children, on the other hand, have nothing to hold on to as a priority above the Kingdom. Whatever is our security in this lifetime is released and trust in God for everything is gladly received.
Bottom line: To be a child is to freely and gratefully enter and possess the Kingdom of a loving Father because, as He told His disciples, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). This encouraging word was in the context of His admonition not to worry about whether their material needs would be provided for. I think this is a timely word for us all in the present-day uncertainties.
Can you picture the children running up to Jesus, the King, and throwing their arms wide open to Him as He also receives them with a enthusiastic and warm embrace? That’s the way it should be with us and is also required to enter the Kingdom. Only then can it be manifested in us with peace, joy, and love. And did I mention that it is empowering, too?
Now, don’t delay to come before the Father to renew that child-like faith and let our God manifest His Kingdom in you.
by Lawrence Blanchard, ND, M.Div.
Next up: Where Taking Dominion Begins – Part 4 (Final)