Starting Out As a Child Is How We Are To End

Keith KettenringBible Insights, Christian Living, Ministry Leaders, The Uncommon Journey

In one of **Bill Cosby’s first recorded comedy routines, he talks about some experiences of his childhood beginning with the line, “I started out as a child.” The audience erupts in laughter. It’s a funny line because it states the obvious, but normally forgotten, truth. We all start out our lives as children. Spiritually speaking, it’s too bad we don’t remain there. We become “adults” in our faith and forget what it’s like to be a child, the very thing Jesus tells us we must be. 

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Jesus’ Teaching 

Truly I say to you, unless you turn (repent) and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18.3-4

Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven/God. Matthew 19.14; Mark 10.15; Luke 18.16

Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great. Luke 9.48

Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. Luke 18.17

Humility is at the Core

There may be many characteristics of a child that Jesus is inviting us to be. However, humility is certainly at the core. You’ve seen humility in a child – a willingness to ask, eagerness to please, sensitivity to others, and innocence about life. Much of this changes as children grow older, cynical, critical, proud, and self-determined. 

Now, add to this “growth” a layer of Bible knowledge and/or theological enlightenment and you’ve got a path leading around the Kingdom of God not into it. To the theologically sophisticated, the spiritually mature, the ministry experienced, or the ecclesiastically educated a call to childlikeness seems impossible. No. It actually sounds foolish. 

Maybe Jesus was wrong? You might hope so. Is he teaching us that a mature faith is a child’s faith? That would be just like him.   

From what Jesus says, there is more hope for the ignorant layperson than for the degreed church leader. I’m not advocating ignorance. I’m just saying none of us have an excuse for not living a kingdom life. The most childlike have the best chance not the astute theologian. You can have all your Bible ducks in a row. But if you’re proud, defensive, and arrogant about your Bible knowledge, you’re going to miss out on the Kingdom. Count on it. 


The solution, according to Jesus, is to repent. Turn from your arrogant ways. Admit your pride. Turn towards Jesus and learn humility from him who lived it, suffered in it, knew himself in it though quite knowledgable of scripture and humanity. 

Repent. Become a child again. Go back to where you started. Crawl on your hands and knees through the door of the Kingdom of God. It’s only open for children. 

How do you struggle in being like a child spiritually? Share your experience below. 

Dr. K 

**I know Cosby’s reputation has been tarnished by recent revelations. At the time we heard these recordings (in the 60’s) he was the funniest person we’d ever heard.