People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on 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. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:13-15
Third- and fourth-graders at Wheaton Christian Grammar School were asked to complete the following sentence: “By faith, I know that God is…” The responses included:
“Forgiving, because he forgave in the Bible, and he forgave me when I went in the road on my bike without one of my parents” (Amanda). “Providingful, because he dropped manna for Moses and the people, and he gave my dad a job” (Brandon). “Merciful, because my brother has been nice to me for a year” (Jeremy). “Faithful, because the school bill came, and my mom didn’t know how we were going to pay it. Two minutes later, my dad called, and he just got a bonus check. My mom was in tears” (Anonymous). “Sweet, because he gave me a dog. God tells me not to do things that are bad. I need someone like that” (Hannah).
Jesus is rarely described as indignant in the Gospel accounts, but he was indignant the day his disciples scolded children trying to make their way to Jesus. It was not that Jesus simply had a soft spot in his heart for children, and not that he idealized children, a mistake sometimes made in today’s world. Jesus was angry whenever anyone stood in the way of someone coming to God on the terms God himself has set: simple faith. When we view other people through our own spiritual biases, acting like we get to size other people up on the validity of their approach to God, we are guilty of arrogance. Exclusivity is the mind-set of people with puny faith.
Sometimes it is the child who shows us what valid faith is. The lesson to learn from children is that dependence is the only way to live. Children know that; adults talk themselves out of it.
To “receive the kingdom of God like a little child” means to gladly submit to God’s ruling authority, trusting that it is for our good and in the natural order of things. Simple.
PONDER: What is standing in the way of simple faith in your life right now?
* * *
• CHANGE FOR A CHANGE •
Hubert Morquette, a surgeon from Haiti, was a guest at Elmbrook Church’s Harvestfest mission conference in October of 2010. Dr. Morquette shared the devastation in Port-au-Prince caused by the earthquake in January of that year. As Dr. Morquette walked home that day, he was overwhelmed, seeing the bodies of the injured, maimed,
and dead in the streets. King’s Hospital, the Christian hospital that he oversees, was inundated with injured people, and the hospital grounds became the surgical ward.
Many on his staff were dealing with their own trauma of having lost a family member or friend, yet they served others in need.
In the audience for that Harvestfest service was a young boy named Patrick. He was so moved by what Dr. Morquette shared that evening, that he felt compelled to do something. Patrick returned home that night and emptied the change he’d been collecting for several years into mason jars. The following night he brought those jars to Dr. Morquette’s ministry table and asked him to use this money to help the people in Haiti.
Since that time, mason jars have appeared in Elmbrook’s missions department every few months. With the faith of a child, Patrick realized his change could make a change in someone else’s life. He could continue to share from his blessings and impact global ministry in a big way. The missions pastor offered the opportunity to designate his funds toward local or global ministries. Patrick asked that his financial gifts be used to help those in desperate situations globally.
Patrick’s parents have been inspired by Patrick’s compassionate heart. Their son’s example of hearing of a need and giving selflessly to God’s work has caused them to participate themselves, led by a little child in the work of the kingdom of God.
* * *
God welcomes children. When we are young, we understand what it means to depend fully on God. Children have a humility and trust that can be broken and warped over the years. The Barna Group has done research that shows “two out of three born again Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday.” Christians are most likely to develop a relationship with Jesus when they are young. Let’s help ensure the children in our lives are introduced to Jesus at an early age.
Read Mark 10:13-15. Why do you think the disciples were trying to stop the parents from bringing their children to Jesus? How did Jesus respond to the disciples? What does it mean to put your trust in Jesus? Read 1 Timothy 4:12. What are ways you can set an example for others?