There is a wisdom that confounds the wise. It’s inaccessable to the cynical, the arrogant, and the know-it-alls. It’s this wisdom that unlocks the door to heaven’s realm. It’s really about perception and a very different way of thinking that requires we become open and vulnerable and teachable like a little child. Otherwise, we won’t see heaven’s realm at all.
Consider what Jesus is saying here:
3 “Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in.” (Matt.18:3 TPT)
Before I get into this, I don’t think this passage is talking about salvation, although we do need to receive salvation like a child, we’re saved by grace through faith (Eph.2:8). But I do believe it’s talking about how we experience heaven’s realm…right now. It’s about how we receive revelation from God and the nature of our transformation. It’s about entering the gateway—Jesus—and experiencing life, freedom, and satisfaction (John 10:9).
What first strikes me about this passage is that we must dramatically change our way of thinking. We’ve all grown up learning a way of thinking; we’ve learned how to perceive the world around us. But in order to perceive and experience heaven’s realm, we must learn to think in an entirely different way.
I’ve talked a lot about how a closed heart receives nothing from God, but an open heart is capable of receiving the deepest things of God. An open heart is this new way of thinking, receiving God’s kingdom with the wide-eyed wonder of a child.
This is why the religious scholars in Jesus’ day didn’t understand or receive anything from Jesus, but the children and those whose hearts were open did understand.
Receiving heaven’s kingdom is hard because our “adult thinking” will immediately dismiss this way as foolish and childish. But the truth is, we are the foolish ones, dismissing the very thing that could transform our lives.
To become more spiritually mature means becoming more child-like, not stuffing your head with more information.
Here’s some grown-up talk that can help you make this transition.
In order to make sense of the world around us, we only perceive a very low resolution of the reality around us. If we perceived everything all at once we would go crazy! You might say we’ve put a “perception box” around us. Now, this mental grid is good for everyday interactions with the natural world, but it won’t help us receive the kingdom realm.
To have wide-eyed wonder like a child is to make yourself vulnerable before the Lord, open, trusting, anticipating, not limited to this “box” created from your life experiences and education that keeps you locked in your earth-bound thinking.
Where is heaven’s realm? Jesus said that it’s all around us and in us.
21 Nor will people say, Look! Here [it is]! or, See, [it is] there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you]. (Luke 17:21 AMP*)
After all, we know heaven is not some physical place up in the clouds! It’s not in the physical dimension at all, yet it’s as real and tangible as our conscious thoughts.
We don’t normally perceive this kingdom by trying to figure it out. As it’s been said, the mind is a good servant to our spirit but it’s a poor master.
As I mentioned in my post, “How God helps us see the heavenly realm,” Bob Jones, who went to heaven like most people go to Walmart, used to call this our “golden imagination.” But this doesn’t mean we’re making things up; it means that God uses these “eyes of our heart” to show us His heavenly realities. And we can do that, too! After all, we’re now seated in heavenly places in Christ (Eph.2:6).
Beloved, we weren’t meant to be earthbound, for every person has eternity written in their hearts (Eccl.3:11). This is why people are drawn to the promise of heaven, or utopia (Socialism’s appeal is that it offers the promise of utopia on earth, but it’s an antichrist counterfeit that never delivers what it promises.) The point is, we were made for heaven.
This is exactly what God did on the Cross. When He raised Christ, He raised us with Him. And His intent was for us to live from heaven to earth.
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil.3:20 NASB*)
There’s no place to get to because we’re already there! Heaven is as close as our child-like heart:
22 By contrast, we have already come near to God in a totally different realm, the Zion-realm, for we have entered the city of the Living God, which is the New Jerusalem in heaven! We have joined the festal gathering of myriads of angels in their joyous celebration! (Heb.12:22 TPT*)
Do you need peace and rest from this psychotic world we seem to find ourselves living in these days? Are you anxious? Worried? Well, there is a rest waiting for the people of God. It’s available 24/7, if we will but open our hearts to it, for He says, “Today, if you hear my voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Heb.4:6-7)*
For the only way we can enter into this rest is by learning to receive it with the wide-eyed wonder of a little child. Amen.
Keep us in childlike love and trust, service and following You, Lord, by Your grace, for Your glory. 🙏♥️🙏
Brother Mel; I used to joke and say, “I may be getting older (I’ll be 69 in a few days), but I refuse to grow up.” That was when I was younger still. Today I still say it once in a while but with an emphasis that you so succinctly laid out here. We HAVE to have that child-like wonder and that is what gives some of us that awe (fear of the Lord) the Word speaks of! Great message. Did my heart good to read it! God Bless!
Thanks Roland. We should all keep a child-like heart as we grow older.
Don’t really see anything wrong with your interpretation, but I suspect the emphasis of Matt.18:3 is on humility. Given the variance in translations, this one of those occasions where I wish I could read Greek.
I would just observe that in the ancient world little children were very low in the pecking order. Many were born and many died. They had to be protected and fed, and food was scarce. Therefore, nobody put up with much from them. Children had to treat their elders with respect, to humble themselves before them.
Likewise, we must humble ourselves before our Maker. That includes accepting and being thankful for His teachings.
Just the same, I think we are to examine our Lord’s teaching as adults. We are, as you do, expected to bring the full power of a thinking adult to the study of the Word. Childlike curiosity? I suppose so, but also adult discipline and mature, critical thinking skills.
Anyway, I think that is one of those puzzles in the Bible. We reach a variety of conclusions, but none of them are necessarily wrong.
I believe the idea Jesus was bringing was to have a child-like heart before the Lord. This is how we receive from heaven’s realm. We stay vulnerable and teachable. Of course, this has nothing to do with being childish or immature. We are also called be wise and even shrewd in the world. So, in the natural world, we need to be able to think critically. But that doesn’t serve us well in how we receive from the Lord. We must have open hearts like a child to receive the kingdom.
Well, Jesus also said that His sheep know his voice. So, I think as the children of God we need to make certain we trust our child-like heart only to our Lord.
Ahh, amen! Now there’s a breath of fresh air! Well done, Mel.
I loved this part, “In order to make sense of the world around us, we only perceive a very low resolution of the reality around us.” There are some theories that suggest one of the reasons why we have such big brains is because they act like filters to keep stuff out so we can function in the physical realm we inhabit. What makes that exciting is that it means there is a whole lot of reality going on all around us that we aren’t even aware of and we are actually far more powerful then we fully understand!
I’m pretty grown up, so in order to hear what the Lord is saying, I have to really humble myself intellectually. Usually what He is saying is going to be counter intuitive and requires me to receive it with some open wonder and curiosity, like kids do. As grown ups we tend to just have all the answers and a big cynic on guard, too.
Really good points, IB. I’m also a bit analytical and rely too much on my thinking brain, so I have to turn that off when I get before the Lord and just learn to receive. But what you’re talking about is the mystery. That’s the vast part that we don’t have a mental grid for…yet! And that’s what’s exciting about this adventure we have Jesus as He expands our little “box” as we grow in Him!
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Much needed read with everything going on
Thanks Jim. Blessings.
God bless you