In the Gospels, Jesus says: “You must become like little children to enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” I once heard a preacher say that children were welcome into the kingdom because of their natural innocence. Whoever said that obviously never had any children of their own.
The reason I think Jesus picked children as the example for his disciples is not because they are innocent, but because they are incompetent. They don’t rely on knowledge or expertise because they don’t have any. They aren’t trying to prove themselves to God on the basis of what they know or what they’ve done. All they truly want and need is to love and to be loved. Innocence or purity doesn’t have anything to do with it.
We have this idea that Jesus wants sophisticated disciples who know their Bibles inside and out and have all the right opinions and beliefs. What Jesus really wants from us is that we might come to him like little children, recognizing that none of our knowledge or good works are going to get us into his kingdom – but only his love for us and our love for him and for each other.