Coming from a church background, I've always heard people talk about "child-like faith." But where do we get that concept anyway?
Answer: from Jesus.
Some people brought their little children for Jesus to bless. But when his disciples saw them doing this, they told the people to stop bothering him. So Jesus called the children over to him and said, "Let the children come to me! Don't try to stop them. People who are like these children belong to God's kingdom. You will never get into God's kingdom unless you enter it like a child!"
Luke 18:15-17 (CEV)
And another account from Matthew...
About this time the disciples came to Jesus and asked him who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus called a child over and had the child stand near him. Then he said:
I promise you this. If you don't change and become like a child, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. But if you are as humble as this child, you are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And when you welcome one of these children because of me, you welcome me.
Matthew 18:1-5 (CEV)
But...what does Jesus mean by "faith like a child" actually??
The interesting thing to me is in neither of those accounts does Jesus actually say to emulate children's "faith". He simply says that we are to "become like children." So is the faith piece really what he wants us to model from children? Or is there something deeper to it?
One of the things that struck me when I first became a dad was this huge but simple revelation: my child is completely and utterly dependent on me. And further, my children can do nothing to decrease my love for them. And, at least as of when they were born, they had done nothing to earn my love!
The thing that I think children really possess that we must emulate if we are to really know God is nothing. Yes, nothing. Okay, children have lots: stuff they get from their parents or others, inner talents and character traits, adorable chubby cheeks that you want to pinch.
But at the end of the day, when I think about the major difference between children and mature adults, the biggest glaring difference is dependence vs. independence.
As a child, you are basically wholly dependent on others to receive what you need to even survive. None more true than when you are an infant, this still holds true until well after you've reached puberty! Children don't have the skills to survive on their own, earn a living, obtain food or shelter, or clothing. They have to be given everything.
Adults, however, are the epitome of independence. Even when we have very little independence and are in fact dependent on others for so much more than we will admit, we cling to the illusion of dependence that we construct in our lives as though our lives depend on it.
And it's not that I think God want's us or needs us to be dependent on Him. I think that it's simply the reality of the way life is, and He wants us to acknowledge that reality. I'm deeply persuaded that our Heavenly Father would have us prepared for life in all regards. But it seems a huge part of that preparation for life is seeing things as they are - including our lack of ability.
I also think this has to do with the ability to receive. So much of life is making choices just to do something or not to do something. To receive something or not to receive something. So when we cling to the idea that we need nothing, we are not prepared to receive something when it is offered to us - including salvation.
I really think that's why Jesus said we must become as children if we are to inherit God's Kingdom: because children know how to receive things and don't refuse what they are given when it is good.