Don’t hinder the children from coming to Jesus

Don’t hinder the children from coming to Jesus

Today’s children are very busy. In previous generations, at least in Australia, it was common for children to spend a great deal of time outside, in parks, riding bikes, and relaxing. Now life is different. There are many after school activities, music practice or sports training, and for Christian families, church. How does this reality change how we think about parenting?

Matthew 19 is a big help here. Jesus was surrounded by crowds who flocked to him for healing, and he was in the middle of important grown-up conversations with religious leaders. Some of the parents of those in the crowd were bringing their children to Jesus, wanting him to lay hands on them and bless them. This meant that they wanted Jesus to set them apart to a godly life, and were exposing their children to what mattered most to them.

Jesus’ disciples were not impressed. They tried to stop the parents bringing their children to Jesus. He was a very busy and important man, and surely he had more important things to do than to bless small children! Yet Jesus rebuked them and told them to let the little children come to him, and he specifically said not to hinder them. Jesus accepts all who come to him, whether old or young, purely by grace.

Now most of us cannot remember a time when we actively hindered children from coming to Jesus. Yet it is easy to do the same kind of thing without thinking. How might we be hindering children from coming to Jesus? I want to explore 2 possibilities.

  1. With the thinking that Jesus has more important things to do

Our churches can communicate to our people that children are a bother rather than welcome. We can remove the children from the worship service to some kind of babysitting where they are entertained but not get taught the Bible. Children need to learn the Bible too, and are more than capable! Many churches do this with Sunday Schools, others do it by keeping kids in the sermon but ensuring it is clear and easy for children to understand.

  1. With the thinking that our children have more important things to do

As I mentioned before, children are often busy with many priorities. We are keen to ensure they do their homework and get good marks. We want them to practice sport and instruments. Their lives, and the lives of their parents, so easily get filled up with things. So where does the Bible fit in? It is easy to leave it out during the week altogether. If that happens, and the only input is on Sundays at church, that’s communicating a lot to our kids. It is saying that the things of God are less important than education and achievement. We don’t need to say this out loud; our actions will communicate it very clearly.

We must not assume that kids will simply pick up our faith magically. We need to show this is the first priority for us. The parents in the crowd in Matthew 19 wanted their children to be part of what they were interested in. We take our kids to events we like and try to get them to like food we enjoy. We need to have a plan to help them come to know the God we love. That could be a regular devotional time, but it should be more than that. In a Christian household, Jesus should be talked about, decisions to serve should be discussed, and sermons should be considered.

Our children need to know Jesus above all else. Let’s make every effort to make sure they see that Jesus matters to us above other things.