Recently, our church hosted a series of sermons titled “Family Matters.” The series raised important issues families in today’s world face. The series included conversations about marriage, singleness, extended family, and finances.

One topic was the importance of children in the family system. Now, mostly, when people are asked to discuss children, the focus usually concentrates on how we, as parents and adults, raise up godly children. Certainly, that is a very important conversation.

But, I decided to look at the relationship of children and families from a different angle, namely:

  • Why does God consider children (and their example) so important to the spiritual walk and growth of a family, and —
  • Why do so many of our children miss that all-important connection to Christ?

What I discovered was that not only does God consider children and their witness important to the health of the family, but children exemplify many of the qualities that all of us should reflect when connecting to God.

Luke 18:15-17 reads this way:

15 People were bringing babies to Jesus so that he would bless them. When the disciples saw this, they scolded them. 16 Then Jesus called them to him and said, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. 17 I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.”

Scripture tells us that children exhibit five qualities that all believers should have –

  1. Dependence
  2. Curiosity
  3. Innocence & Unconditional Love
  4. Joy
  5. Anticipation

These qualities seem natural when discussing children, but they also represent how each of us should approach our relationship to God.

Much of what Jesus had to say in Luke was targeted at adults who had forgotten how to approach His kingdom like children.

Children are important reminders that the sophistication and maturity of life does not mean losing our most intimate connections to Christ.

That is why I believe we, as adults, must protect the innocence of children. In every instance where a child grows up too fast or has their innocence robbed, their hearts and view of God become clouded by the issues of this world and the distractions of adulthood. They prematurely are exposed to circumstances they are not emotionally or spiritually capable of confronting.

Proverbs 22: 6 says, “Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it.”

Scripture details several factors that keep children from growing into a faithful relationship with Christ:

  • Parental ‘Faith Failure’ – too many parents have given over their roles as ‘first teachers, spiritual mentors, and advocates’ to others.
  • Lack of Sufficient Focus by Faith Communities – churches too often view children’s ministry as glorified babysitting and do not truly engage in spiritual conversations with the children.
  • Deficiency in Their Theological and Moral Life – too many of our children are being ‘abused’ by the immorality and brokenness of a world that insists that anything is okay as long as it makes you feel good.
  • Self-Centred, Prideful Life – too many of our children suffer from affluenza, a malady caused by having everything, but possessing nothing that truly matters.
  • A young man in Texas was sentenced to 10 years probation with rehab for driving while under the influence and killing several people. His defense was ‘affluenza.’ Many in the community were outraged at the judge’s ruling. I was shocked myself.

However, there is much truth in the situation. This young man did not get up one morning, look in the mirror, and say, “Today I think I will destroy my life and ruin the lives of several others.” No, he got up after far too many previous days of having no boundaries, no accountability, and no guidance. That is when tragedy struck.

Too many of our children live like that young man. Sure, they may not experience the massive life-changing mistakes that he brought on himself and those around him, but they wake up without the direction, security, and encouragement they need to simply be children.

If we are to protect our children and help them grow into strong, faithful followers of Christ, we must be willing to stand in the gap for each step along their journey.

And, the benefit for helping these little ones ‘come unto Jesus’—in their time—is not just for them. No, every child that sits at the feet of Jesus reminds us that we are never too old to join them.

Shane Stanford

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