“I tell you the truth:
Unless you change
And become like little children
You will never see the kingdom of God.”
– Jesus, in Matthew 18:3
You made so much work for Yourself when You said that.
This means that everyone who enters the kingdom of God
Enters it helpless, needy, clingy
And with a runny nose.
Everyone who enters the kingdom of God
Makes more work for Him
And not less;
Everyone who enters the kingdom of God
Comes in sucking their thumb
And ready to burst into tears at the drop of a hat.
This means that the kingdom of God is a place
Where there are car seats in every car,
Plastic potty seats in every bathroom,
And cracker crumbs ground into every carpeted floor.
The Kingdom of God is a place
Where the first word the Spirit of Adoption teaches the new ones to cry is
Only it starts out more like
And loving faces peer down with wonder and delight and say,
“Do you think she means anything by it yet?”
“I’m not sure, but if she doesn’t she will soon!”
The Kingdom of God is a place where Peter, called to be a Feeder of Lambs, said
“Earnestly desire pure spiritual milk
So that by it you may grow up into salvation”
And where Paul said,
“We were gentle among you,
Like a nursing mother with her children.”
For the Kingdom of God is a Place of Growing,
A place where everyone is growing all the time.
That is why it is a place where everyone starts off with milk,
And then upgrades to graham crackers and apple juice
And then to hamburger happy meals.
That is why it is a place where the All-Patient Spirit of God changes people,
Changes diaper after diaper and cleans up mess after mess,
Where the humble and loving Son of God who knelt down to wash feet
Kneels down again to lift little people on and off the potty with joyous laughter
And to clean up accident after accident without reproach.
That is why it is a place where every four-year-old was once two,
And where every two-year-old will someday be four.
That is why everyone in the kingdom of God
Is becoming more like Jesus all the time.
And growing can be slow, and messy, and frustrating, and sometimes painful,
And that is why the kingdom of God is filled with spilling and squabbling,
With escalating voices yelling “Paul!” “Apollos!” “Paul!” “Apollos!”
And, “I don’t want to!”
And, “I’m going to tell Daddy on you!”
And even sometimes, “I hate you and you can’t make me!”
The kingdom of God is a place of tears and tantrums,
Of hugs and kisses,
Of “I’m sorry”
And “I forgive you,”
Of ten thousand repetitions of “Daddy said ‘no.’ ”
The kingdom of God is a place of adoption, where no one is ever turned away.
And so the Kingdom of God is a place
Where screaming, sickly, terrified babies are nursed back to health
By a patient Father who will stay up all night and never set them down,
And where starving, emaciated babies who can’t even cry are fed back to life
And where tantrum-throwing two-year-olds are loved and disciplined
Into obedience and peace.
The kingdom of God is a place where mighty warriors are created.
He has said that “Everyone who is born of God overcomes the world,”
Which means that God’s tiniest newborn baby is an unstoppable force
Irrevocably destined to overcome the world.
And the warriors start out clumsy, and clueless,
And afraid of a world that is terrified of them.
For everyone who “lets Jesus take the wheel”
Will find themselves buckled into a baby carrier in the back seat
Learning to let God drive.
And the kingdom of God is a place where, like a big family
(For the kingdom of God is a very big family)
The 15-year-old and the 12-year-old and the 10-year-old
All know how to change diapers
And distribute cheerios
And enforce “Daddy said ‘no.’ ”
It is a place where big brothers and big sisters
Love and care for little brothers and little sisters,
A place where the strong bear with the failings of the weak,
A place of learning to love.
The kingdom of God is a place of love casting out fear
Love casting out fear
Love casting out fear
Again and again
Every minute of every day.
The kingdom of God is a place where Jesus rocks babies
Back to sleep again after they have nightmares
And where those same babies grow up
To crawl beside Jesus
Under barbed wire and across battlefields
As He goes to save others from their nightmares.
The kingdom of God is a place of snuggling,
And bouncing on the bed.
The kingdom of God is a place of telling stories.
The kingdom of God is a place where the only rules are:
Love each other
And obey Daddy
And that is enough.
It is enough when “obey Daddy” means
“Just keep sitting there, even if nothing comes out,”
Or, “I want you to eat three green beans first.”
Or, “Put the blocks away now.”
Or, “You need to tell him that you’re sorry.”
It is enough when “obey Daddy” becomes much bigger
Because Daddy always knows what everyone is ready for
Because Daddy always gets them ready.
The kingdom of God is a place of excitement and milestones,
Of first teeth gained with tears
And first teeth lost with glee,
Of first words spoken
And first words read,
Of first steps taken
And first shoes tied,
And of Daddy’s wild, ecstatic excitement in the presence of the angels
Every time a new baby is born again,
Before they do anything,
Just because they are alive.
Because the kingdom of God is the kingdom of GOD
And God is love
And He never gets tired.
The kingdom of God is a place of Great Humility,
Where Jesus (who is so great that nobody is worthy to untie His shoes)
Kneels down to wash little feet
And tie little shoes
And teach little hands to do likewise.
The kingdom of God is a place of Great Patience,
Where the Spirit who inspired all of the Scriptures
Teaches babies to start crying “Dada!”
The kingdom of God is a place of Great Grace
Where the God who created the galaxies
Flops on the bed or on the floor
To join in scribbling with a purple crayon.
Because the first thing God did when He got Israel out of Egypt
Was to take them under the arms and teach them to walk.
And the first thing God does
When He gets a new newborn into the kingdom of God
Is stick a nipple in their mouth and whisper
“Shhh. I’ve got you now.
Everything will be ok.”