Become as a Little Child
Except you are converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 9:10). According to Christ’s words, returning to the mind of a child is necessary as a precondition for all to be able to enter His kingdom.1 The chief characteristic of childhood is inquisitiveness and the search for greater understanding (see Mosiah 1:17).2 Repentance is not likely unless a person is willing to undergo a change to become more “childlike” in perspective and attitude. This is more than just an analogy or good advice. It is a prerequisite. It is the only way you can “inherit the kingdom of God.” Children are open to change and willing to learn. They welcome new ideas, for all ideas are new to them. The world is new to them. They feel their ignorance and are anxious to fill it with information and understanding. They know they are unable to cope with the world they live in unless they obtain more understanding than they have. They relentlessly search to know more. On the other hand, adults believe they already know something and are unwilling to receive more.
“Adults learn disciplines of study and then think the Gospel should be viewed by the tools of the scholar. To the economist, all of the Gospel appears to be financial. To the philosopher, all of the Gospel appears to be dialectic. To the lawyer it is a legal system. But the Gospel is separate from the understanding of men. It requires us to surrender our arrogance and foolishness and come as a child to learn anew everything about life and truth. This is why the Gospel always begins with creation, informs of the Fall, and preaches the atonement. We must repent because the foundation of accepting new truth begins with the realization that we’re not getting anywhere by what we’ve already done. We need to abandon old ways and begin anew. Until we are open to the new truths offered through the Gospel, we can’t even start the journey. We’re headed in the wrong direction and don’t even know it. First, we need to realize our direction is wrong. Then, stop going that way. When we turn to the new direction, we’ve begun repenting. From repentance comes light and truth. At first, just turning to face the new direction is a great revelation. But you’ve not seen anything until you walk in that direction for a while. As you move toward the light and receive more, the world itself changes meaning and nothing you used to think important remains important.
“Becoming as a little child, or repenting, must precede baptism if you are to be saved. Otherwise, you cannot receive these things or, in other words, you cannot accept the new truths and perspectives the Gospel will require you to know and accept. Unless these steps are taken you cannot inherit the kingdom of God because only such people will be able to enter. Teachable. Open. Willing to receive more. Able to endure difficulties as a result of the changes that come to them. Patient. Submissive to God. And eager to learn more. Not arrogant. Not trying to fit the new truths into your existing framework of false notions. Not resisting truth and arguing against it. Not proud or boastful, secure in your own salvation. Not holding a testimony that you will be saved while others around you will be lost because they do not believe as you do. How few there will be who find it. Most people are simply unwilling to repent. They have such truth as they are willing to receive already, and want nothing more.”3See DOCTRINE OF CHRIST.
1 Second Comforter, 240.
2 Email to Scripture Committee, Jan. 31, 2018.
3 “3 Nephi 11:37–38,” Sept. 29, 2010, blog post.