We love to see children in church. We clutch our hands to our hearts during their Christmas pageant, laugh at their funny answers during a children’s moment in service, and clap along when they sing on Easter Sunday. However, the Bible shows us how truly important children are in the body of Christ, beyond the sweet songs they sing.
The Bible tells us that God created children perfectly (Psalm 139:13-16) and that they are a reward and source of joy (Psalm 127:3-5). We are not to cause children to stumble in any way (Matthew 18:6-7) nor exasperate or be unreasonable with them (Eph. 6:4). We are obligated to teach them while they also have a role as our teachers (Deut. 6:6-7, 11:18-21), as Jesus called us to humility when He told us to be like children (Matt. 18:3-4; 1 Tim. 4:12).
To fully understand how Jesus felt about little ones we can look to Mark 10:13-16. Jesus was in the middle of talking to His disciples and the pharisees about the serious topic of divorce, and was interrupted when people, probably mothers brought their children to Him. Like any good parent they wanted them close to the Messiah. The disciples though were annoyed by them; couldn’t they see they were having a serious discussion?! When they showed their annoyance, Jesus became indignant.
Jesus couldn’t believe the disciples had already forgotten His teaching of “the greatest of these” just a couple days earlier in which He even brought a child to them to show how they were to welcome children and Him. When these children came to Jesus, they wanted nothing in return, unlike adults who wanted answers, food, healing, blessings, etc. Jesus probably cherished these moments in which He received pure love, joy, and probably some silliness that would give Him strength because in just a few days He would suffer and die on a cross. If you too have enjoyed the affection and joy of a child, you too know it can change everything.
Jesus saw children whenever and wherever He could and wanted to make sure the adults got out of their way, and how often we adults do get in the way. We tend to over explain, pity, and minimize the great things kids can do. God not only gives guidance and love to children, but also wisdom and the ability to teach us. So, although the Christmas pageant is cute and fun, God also uses it to grow a mighty faith in the children and in us.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 18 that God has a whole team of angels watching over little ones and that He is not willing to let any child perish, just like any of His sheep who wander. May we then have a renewed commitment to care for the children in our lives as the precious gifts and important members of the body of Christ that they truly are.
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