By Not Known
Children can be a bother. Infants demand feeding and playing at untimely moments.
Older children need to be sent here and there, let alone the mounting costs of child
rearing. Teenagers have intriguing ways to unbalance their parents. And then they
become young adults – clinging too closely to the parental home or striking out in
too independent a path.
Children can also be a bother in church. They can be noisy and fidgety during
services, distracted in their Sunday School classes and insistent on doing their own
things in youth ministy.
In the light of this it’s easy to sympathise with the disciples (Luke 18:15-17). Jesus
was teaching the adults and ‘they’ (presumably parents) brought very young
children for his touch. This was too much for the disciples who scolded them.
Jesus welcomed children. This is typical of the Bible where young children are
treated as part of God’s people and can even outdo their elders in responsiveness to
God (eg Gen 17:12; 1 Sam 3).
There are important lessons for us here about the place of children in church.
Children may know less about God but this does not mean that their love and loyalty
for him is less. Knowing much about God is not the same as knowing him personally!
Jesus’ words dig deeper. He gives a message about the kingdom of God; …the
kingdom of God belongs to such as these… anyone who does not receive the
kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.
Jesus is not saying we must be childish. But we must be childlike to enter God’s
kingdom. This is probably a reference to qualities such as simplicity of trust and
humility. We must relate to God with the uncluttered response of a child to a
parent – with little of ourselves and a simple admiration and dependence on God.
This is a far cry from the self-importance of the Pharisee’s prayer (vv11 -12). And far
from the complex compromises of the rich man (v22). The right path is seen in the
prayer: God, have mercy on me, a sinner (v13) and the recognition that God must
save and God alone (vv26-27).
In short, the path to being children of God is to have a childlike response to God.
What good news!