The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. Mark 10:13-16This passage is very familiar to us and can be understood in many ways. I think the key is to be clear about what it means to be a child. I think this becomes clear when you observe children and their interactions. Children seem to be at their most "natural" when they are playing with each other with out any kind of adult supervision or "rules." Not to overly romanticize this--I have raised seven children who have 17 grandchildren--but children at play enter fully into a play world. They seem to create a new reality with relationships and interactions that have meaning within that new reality. It is a world that they create and into which adults cannot gain admission unless they become part of that new reality. An adult who attempts to enter as an adult breaks the new reality apart.
Sometimes this passage has been misinterpreted by those in powerful positions in religion to mean that members of a church should accede to the judgments and decisions of those in leadership without questions, a kind of childlike obedience to adult authority. This is tantamount to an adult trying to enter a child's play world while remaining an adult. One can do it but it changes and degrades the reality of the child's play world. More than that, any one who has spent any time with children knows that the last thing one would say about children is that they are "unquestioning!" The unending series of "why" questions makes that quite clear to those who listen. The exasperated adult who finally ends that sequence with "Because I said so" is simply using authority to break the reality of the child.
Can I enter into the Reign of the Divine One with the commitment of a child? Can I enter into this new reality with all my being? Can I leave aside the authoritarian inclinations of human nature and become fully one with a new reality?