Reflection: Why Does the Kingdom Belong to Children?

Parent and child

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” — Matthew 19:14 (NLT)

Recently, I was walking down the street with a friend and her four-year-old son. We each held one of his hands as we tried to match his stride while also encouraging him to move faster. We were late for our lunch reservation.

At that moment, I only saw the child’s limitations, and I was annoyed by them. But my view is so different from how Jesus would view him. The Bible says the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to people who are like children. This is hard to understand. I spend most of my time trying to do the opposite of what a child would do. I want to be independent. I don’t want to be needy.

New York City is home to over 1.7 million children, and Jesus looks at each of them with compassion. With delight. With deep love. Jesus doesn’t love children for the easy things—the smiles, the joy and fun they bring, the sense of purpose they give—but for their whole selves. He loves them for their dependence and limits, too. He wants to give them the Kingdom.

The thought of someone seeing all my limitations scares me, as someone who works to hide my vulnerabilities. But what if my neediness is actually what makes me fit for the Kingdom? Jesus himself knows neediness. He gave up his throne in heaven and came to earth as a baby, fully dependent on others for survival. He did this by choice! It’s hard to imagine willingly taking on the role of a child, but He did.

Jesus sees children as precious. He values them in a way that our fast-paced world, our fast-paced city, doesn’t always cherish in the same way. And even if my pride insists I remain an adult, I still crave to be like a child because my soul craves the Kingdom. Knowing this, walking alongside a child taking his time actually becomes a gift rather than an annoyance.

So I invite you to consider walking alongside a child in a different sense—through mentoring and/or tutoring. HFNY works with 35 affiliates that mentor our city’s children through relationships. Becoming a mentor doesn’t require perfection, just a willingness to be consistent and to share the love you’ve received from Christ. The kids served by these affiliates have great needs, which is a reason to draw near and walk alongside them in the way that Jesus does this for us each day.

Reflection Questions:

  • In what ways do you consider yourself childlike?
  • Do you feel able to share your vulnerabilities and limitations with the Lord? With others?
  • Have you ever thought about serving with one of HFNY’s organizations to help children in our city?