This past Sunday we honored fathers and argued for their importance in families and the culture. In addition, we dedicated children and their parents to the Lord. This week we are in the midst of Kids Week (our version of Vacation Bible School). Is this just something to fill time or does it matter to our mission as a church? I’d argue it is vital to the life of the church and our mission in the world.
Children were important to Jesus. Perhaps you remember this event recorded in Mark 10:13-16. “People were bringing their little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I will tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”
What an incredible story! The King of the universe interacting with little kids. I’m not sure how you picture it, but if you’re a parent of children who’ve been playing outside then you don’t see pristine faces, spotless cloths, and clean hands. Quite the contrary, it is easy to see dirty faces, dirty fingernails and dirty clothes. These were little children, after all. And Jesus held them in his arms and blessed them.
What is the attitude that the church has toward children? Are they a nuisance or a blessing? Do we love the children more or our buildings more? It’s true that you take a risk of something getting moved or damaged when you have children around. It happens in your home and in the church. It’s also true that children should be taught to respect property and leave things as they found them. The danger is that we get caught in the trap of valuing stuff more than children.
Jesus rebuked the disciples for trying to shoo off the children. They saw them as a bother. After all, Jesus was doing important work. He was teaching great things and ushering God’s kingdom. What the disciples did not realize is the kingdom was already there because the King was there! They thought the kingdom was only about authority, power, and structure. Messiness had no place in the kingdom. It must have blown a fuse in their minds to have Jesus pointing to the children all around him and saying that “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Let your theology be big enough to embrace and bless children. If we don’t, we may also face Jesus’ rebuke. If we do, then we will be modeling their heart and life of the Savior.