“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the , And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18: 1-4).
Jesus set forth two conditions necessary to entering into the kingdom of heaven:
1) Except ye be converted, and
2) Become humble as a little child.
What does it mean to be converted? The Cambridge Bible Dictionary offers this definition: “Conversion denotes the first conscious bending of the will of man to the will of God; it begins with repentance and ends in faith.”
The Son of God gave the perfect example of yielding His will to the will of the Father. Jesus continually sought to do always those things that please Him. Because the Savior consistently and humbly submitted to the will of the Father, He had no need to repent. Differently, our conversion requires continual repentance, as well as faithful reliance upon the Lord.
One of the great benefits of being a latter-day saint (a Mormon) is that we are blessed to learn from Another Testament of Jesus Christ written by the prophets of ancient America. In 124 B.C., the prophet and leader of the people of God, King Benjamin, recorded these inspired words about becoming humble as a little child:
“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3: 19).
A key attribute that signals conversion to Christ is this: true believers submit and yield their will to the will of God. This submissive yielding is essential to what I call the Self-Discovery Paradox; a truth taught by the Savior:
“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 10: 39).
The pressing need for repentance unto conversion is understood in the contrast between the submissive simplicity of a little child and these strident descriptions of people living in the latter days:
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; . . . lead captive [by] silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. . . . men of corrupt minds” (2 Tim. 3: 1-8).
Consider the needless noise that clutters contemporary society, noise created by shrill and chaotic voices that consume our culture’s time and attention, and then ponder the purity of a little child:
“We begin our lives in innocence. Beings of goodness, love, and light: No prejudice, no grudges, and no anxiety, . . . just joyful, playful, uninhibited happiness. From birth, not even a shadow of darkness exists in these clean and clear creatures we call ‘bundles of joy.’ In a new-born babe, there is only love and light. That’s a child! And we all began that way. We began our lives in pure innocence; this was the immaculate motion in which we were set. The momentum of Light and Goodness was our guiding energy from the beginning” (Changing Your Stripes, p. 161).
As you repent and exercise faith in Jesus Christ, through His atoning miracle you are made “new” (2 Cor. 5: 17)–redeemed and restored to your innocence beginning as a little child, for such is the kingdom of heaven.