Taking a cue from the kids

This morning I read to my 2-year-old daughter from Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible. 

We read about Daniel in the lions’ den, then flipped to the story of Jesus admonishing the disciples when they turned away the little children who had come to see him—here, titled “The Friend of little children.”

My daughter chimed in with comments on the illustrations, namely the disciples’ wardrobe choices: “He’s wearing a purple dress!” Pointing with her still-chubby fingers, “And yellow! And green!”

As she chatted, I scanned the next couple of paragraphs. The disciples are discussing who they think will be the greatest in God’s kingdom (from Matthew 18). What had they each done to earn a special place? Who deserved it most?

I paused at the following words, and my heart caught in my throat:

“But they had forgotten something. Something God had been teaching his people all through the years: that no matter how clever you are, or how good you are, or how rich you are, or how nice you are, or how important you are—none of it makes any difference. Because God’s love is a gift and, as anyone will tell you, the whole thing about a gift is, it’s free. All you have to do is reach out your hands and take it.” 

Sometimes it helps to read something ever-so-familiar in a different way, doesn’t it?

No matter how clever you are

No matter how good you are

No matter how rich you are

No matter how nice you are

No matter how important you are—

you can’t earn God’s love. It’s a gift. It’s already free.


I know this. Of course I know this. But do I always live like I believe it?

The disciples were about to learn another lesson: The lowly in the eyes of the world—children—matter deeply to Jesus. Not only that, but we should all take a cue from the little ones. A little more faith, hope, and trust; a little less trying so dang hard to earn and achieve.

I’ve heard this story countless times and thought, Oh, you disciples. Will you ever get it right? Let those kids see Jesus already! The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these, you guys! 

But sometimes my actions and thoughts say otherwise. They say I need a little admonishing from Jesus, too: Hey, Rebekah. Remember my words? In God’s upside-down kingdom, things are not as they are on earth: 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
—Matthew 5:3-10

Jesus told us we’ve got it all backwards here. He kinda tossed the world’s rules—the ones we’ve established for ourselves on what matters and what doesn’t—right out the window. I can’t earn my place. His kingdom doesn’t work that way.

You’d think that would make me feel a little panicky—the rules! I need them! But instead it makes me feel a little lighter, a little more free. It’s a relief. It’s hope.

The kids in the last illustration from this chapter in The Jesus Storybook Bible look pretty light and free too, smiling and holding hands with Jesus. They don’t look burdened with the pressure of earning his love or attention. It’s clear they trust him. They’re spending time with him. They’re just being with him.

I think they might be onto something.

Click here to see all posts from the Grace, Freedom, & the Rules series.

{This series is part of the Write 31 Days challenge.} 


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