Manning contends that to be a disciple of Jesus, to become like a little child, we must be willing to accept ourselves as ones who have little importance in comparison to our King. Only when we recognize our low position will we receive a "privileged place in the kingdom." This privilege comes not from us proving our importance, but from God's delight in us, simply becuase we have humbled ourselves as his children.
Talk about a counter-cultural position. Certainly unique from any other faith in our world.
In Luke 18, a rich young man comes to Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. Manning says that:
"It is no coincidence that Luke juxtaposes the passage of Jesus and the children immediately preceding the verses on the young aristocrat. Children contrast with the rich man simply because there is no question of their having yet been able to merit anything. Jesus' point is: there is nothing that any of us can do to inherit the kingdom. We must simply receive it like little children...The New Testament world was not sentimental about children and had no illusion about any pretended innate goodness in them...If they receive anything it can only be as a gift."