And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 18:2-3 ESV]
In the beginning there was peace in the Garden of Eden. It is never explicitly stated the garden was filled with peace. Gardens carry the assumption of peace, tranquility and order. Even now one goes to a garden, not to fight or hunt, but to contemplate and enjoy the work of the gardener and the handiwork of God. We assume there was peace in the Garden of Eden.
Originally, the word “garden” meant “protected” or “fenced in,” not that the rest of the world created by God was wild and untamed (another assumption). Adam was given the world, control over it, the goal of filling it with people and the task of working it, or bringing it under his control. He was at peace with the world, with the animals, with the weather, with his wife, and with God.
Enter sin, lose peace. With the corruption of sin Adam lost peace within the Garden, expelled from it so he could not reach out and eat from the tree of life and live forever corrupted by sin. He lost dominion over the world, fighting and struggling to make the ground grow food. He lost peace with those around him, those who came after him, replaced with contention, anger and hatred. He lost peace with God, separated from Him, the source of his very life.
Neither he, nor we, have lost the desire for peace. Instead, we try to manufacture peace according to our corrupted view and expectations. Yet, what gives us peace may force disturbance on others. In our selfish and self-centered posture we cease to care about others and especially we cease to take into account God. We now build our own gardens, our own refuges, fenced in to keep out the violence and discontent of the world. We grasp for control not realizing the more we fight for control the less control we have. God did not create us to be isolated from Him. Our high fences and dense the walls containing our self made gardens exclude God, sacrificing a peace only He supplies.
When the disciples argued over whom was the greatest in God’s kingdom, they did the very thing Satan had done before falling from grace, losing his position before God. He lied to himself, thinking himself as great as, even greater than, God. So, the disciples were lying to themselves, vying for a position only Jesus could rightfully occupy. But Jesus does not rebuke them, put them in their proper place or expel them from His presence. He did not come to lord it over the world, or even take what is rightfully His. He came, with the eternal image of the perfect servant, to offer Himself and to call to Himself those who are His.
He gave them an example in a child. Unless you turn away from your twisted, sinful attitudes, reverse yourselves and stop growing like the world wants you to grow, and be like a child, you will never even enter His kingdom. You cannot be a part of an eternal kingdom and carry in anything belonging to the world. Our sinful world and all in which it contains, cannot be reconciled with God’s kingdom. Growing and learning according to the dictates of sin cause inability to do what a citizen of God’s kingdom does, or be how God wishes.
Children are naturally selfish, as corrupted by sin as all others. They must learn, or be taught, to sin in a sophisticated manner. Conversely, they are the most emotionally trusting individuals, recognizing the authority of big people, especially their parents. Children do not know, intellectually or intimately, the desire to displace those in authority. They will love, huddle against, find comfort in the presence of even an abusive parent. Until they learn differently.
Jesus tells us to be like a child in the only relationship which brings peace. Relinquish control of ourselves to Him. Stop trying to be the authority, the king of our own garden. We will never have complete peace while in this world. We do hope for peace in eternity. We glimpse peace, never quite comprehending the peacefulness of peace. Only when we arrive in eternity will we truly have peace. Until then, we must recognize our peace with God is more important than any felt peace offered by the world. For, where God is there is real, eternal peace.