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Suffer the Children to Come to Me: An Invitation to Become Childlike

By Mormon.org

Christ’s Invitation

The Savior loves little children. In a brief but poignant scene, when His disciples were inclined to keep the children away, the Savior lovingly replied, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16). Watch how the Savior beckoned the children to Him.

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The Savior’s message to each of us, young or old, is clear. He taught, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” (Luke 18:17). We must become as little children to inherit the kingdom of God. But what does that mean?

Childlike, Not Childish

The Savior’s invitation to become as a little child did not include a call for childish behavior. No matter our age, we must put aside our temper tantrums, belligerent attitudes, and shortsightedness in an effort to become childlike, embracing all that is good about childhood.

Becoming childlike takes work. What comes so easily for little children doesn’t seem so easy as we grow older. King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon counseled that to become childlike we must become “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). Becoming childlike also means we must be faithful, teachable, forgiving, peaceable, and obedient. 

Why Does the Savior Want Us to Be Childlike?

These childlike characteristics directly oppose the worldly demands placed on us every day. The world glorifies power, dominion, pride, self-aggrandizement, and hate. But these qualities yield nothing but emptiness. When the Savior asks us to become childlike, He offers all He has in return. As we yield our childlike hearts to Him, He makes of us more than we could make of ourselves. President Henry B. Eyring has taught that becoming childlike “allows the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change us into what we must be.” 

We can learn much from little children. As we love them, observe them, and seek to be like them, we will develop the childlike attributes necessary to bring us closer to Jesus Christ, draw on the power of His Atonement, and live with Him eternally.