Christmas and the kingdom of heaven are both for children. Jesus made it clear that we must all be born again as little children and embrace as adults the faith of a child. God’s ways are filled with paradoxes. You must die if you are really going to live. You must give if you’re ever going to get. You must become last if you’re ever going to be first. You must be the least if you desire to be the greatest. God’s ways are much different from man’s ways. The world seeks people with power, influence, education, socials status and wealth. God seeks little children. God is building His kingdom on the characteristics most frequently found in children: love, innocence, lack of power, sincerity, without pretension, and most of all complete trust. God doesn’t look for power brokers he wants children who simply trust Him. Adults have to unlearn a lot of things to become like children. That’s why Jesus told the wise and seasoned Nicodemus that he had to born again.

A rebirth is necessary because grownups who put confidence in themselves can’t ever grasp the true meaning of the kingdom of heaven or Christmas. They have become blinded to the spiritual reality all around them. When His disciples finally grasped this truth, Jesus exploded with praise to God. He said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children…” (Matthew 11:25).

Maintaining childlike faith in the midst of hurt, pain, suffering and loss is not an easy matter. Christmas time for many can be a time of sorrow and suffering. We hear so much about perseverance and biting the bullet and staying strong and facing the giants and it almost seems like it’s all about our grit and courage. I don’t think God wants us to demonstrate our strength in the face of trial and tribulation. That makes it all about me. I think He wants us to demonstrate our faith. I sometimes hang on, during suffering and trials, out of devotion to duty, or deep moral resolve, or some misplaced manly ability to endure pain. God wants me, as He did all the saints of old, to stand firm in my faith during times of testing. Like an innocent child, He wants me to stand firm in the fact that God loves me and has my best interest foremost in mind, regardless of my circumstances. It’s holding on with childlike devotion to God’s promises, not my strengths. Our obedience shouldn’t glorify us, but the God of Grace.