In this classic Bible passage, Jesus challenges us about how we think about children and how we think about the kingdom of God.
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’
When I first started kids’ ministry back in the good old
days of 2015, I had very little clue what I was getting myself into. With kids,
it’s very hard to know what to expect – what questions they will ask, what
answers they will give and how they will respond to the Bible in the first
place. At the start of my first Community Connect holiday program, I was
terrified. I was so scared that I would be overwhelmed by crazy, thoughtless
kids who would ask me curly questions and make me squirm. What I quickly learnt
is that: (a) kids always surprise you; and (b) they are not to be
underestimated. I have learnt from them things I would have never picked up by
myself – they have explained verses to me, prayed for me, been gentle and
understanding when I don’t know the answer. It is simply wrong that children do
not understand or are not capable of having faith or loving God. In my
experience, many of them are smarter than adults (once you’ve played enough
soccer to tire the kids out and get them to start talking).
In the passage, Jesus thinks of children in a similar way. Even though the disciples do not consider them to be worth much, he calls them to be by his side. For just as Jesus died for us adults on the cross, he died for them too. He says that the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like little children, who come to him with nothing more than empty hands. Kids don’t have money or jobs or houses or cars. They have very little to give. But I have learnt that, because of this, they can love Jesus with their whole hearts – and we should do the same. If we cannot live a life with God as our number one priority, if we love other worldly things more than him, then we can’t enter the kingdom of God. Yet, turned around, what a blessing that is! We do not have to save ourselves or get into heaven by our own works or deeds or money or anything else. It seems that child-like faith is not such a bad thing after all.
Head: Some child-like traits are great, as today’s passage teaches us. Others, like remaining immature, are warned against by Paul and others. Mentally, or on a piece of paper, list of the main ways that we Christians should be child-like and the main ways we shouldn’t be child-like. Pick an item or two from each list to think about in your life.
Heart: Do you come to Jesus with (a very grown-up) self-reliance or arrogance or judgement that keeps you from genuinely getting close to Jesus?
Hands: How can you help ministry to kids? Doing it? Giving generously to support it? Praying for it? Helping out with some support tasks? Make arrangements to do it.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for calling us to your side with love. We are sorry for prioritising things of the world before you. Help us to be more like children, unapologetic, generous and selfless in our love for you. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
A song to listen to: Who You Say I Am, Hillsong Worship
Maddie Pryde (and Geoff Pryde)
Living Church – Creek Road