“Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Jesus – Luke 18:17)
This year was the first Christmas one of our children gave gifts to the family. Sure. There have been years we all joyfully (read: faked a big smile) received gifts of “home-made” crafts made during Sunday School (read: glue and glitter all over the backseat of the car) or trinkets found in the back of a closet (read: their sibling’s toys). But this is the first year where actual thought, money, and energy went into it.
It was nice and sad all at the same time. Nice in the fact that the gifts demonstrated evidence of him paying attention to our likes and dislikes. It was obvious he knew us. Seeing him give gifts also made me proud in that I want my children to learn to be givers. That’s a good thing. Like, a really good thing (read: Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive).
But I was also a little bit sad. I don’t want my children to think they have to get me anything. I don’t want my children to EVER look at our relationship as transactional. Me, nor their mother, have ever purchased Christmas or Birthday presents in the hopes that one day they will pay us back or that they would see the gift as a motivation to “do better” so we will love them more. I don’t want our relationship to be one where if I give them a gift, they feel like they need to repay me with a gift.
I think this is why Jesus said that to enter the kingdom we had to receive it. Like, receive as in “like a child.” How does a child receive a gift? With ZERO thought of paying back. A child just takes a gift and plays with it (hopefully). A child intuitively knows that he or she has nothing to bring to the table; so they just – intuitively – take the gift for what it is – A GIFT.
I wonder how many times I “receive” the gift of salvation and turn it into a transaction? I wonder how many times I – without really processing it, think, “I guess I better do something for God today. I mean, He did give me His Son and all.” Or worse, I wonder if I ever go and “do things for God,” in the hopes that He will be on the line and “forced” to pay me back? “God, I did this for you; so, it’s time for you to pony up and pull off your end of the deal.”
Ouch. (Read: I do this all. the. time.)
Being a part of the kingdom of heaven is a gift. A free and constant gift. The gift of a Person.
God never works in transaction. Rather, He always does what He does for relationship. To be with.
Let me encourage – no, urge – you today (as I preach to myself!) to never do things “for” God. Rather, live to be “with” God. Be like a child. Receive, and live.