“Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
The children in our preschool often sing that song loud and clear during chapel time. The faith and trust of a child is wonderful to see. I ask them, “Do you all love Jesus?” and they energetically scream back, “YES!!” I think children, by nature, take an optimistic view of the world. They don’t worry about paying the bills. Their parents shop for food and clothing and give these good things to them. Children can concentrate on having fun and learning. And boy do they love Jesus!
Last Sunday, our Scripture reading from the Gospel of Mark told the story of when Jesus invited little children to come to him and then blessed them. There’s probably no more endearing image from the Gospels than Jesus surrounded by little children eagerly listening to his every word. (In the house I grew up in, we had a painting that contained a modernized version of that scene, except with a resurrected Jesus in the center, and one young boy pointing at him and asking, “What happened to your hands?”)
Lesson one from this text is that God wants children to be part of his family. There’s a special place in his heart for them. “Let the little children come to me,” he said, “for theirs is the kingdom of God.” There is no greater responsibility parents have than to bring up their children in the knowledge of who God is and what he has done for them through his Son, Jesus Christ. Churches and formal Christian education are an important part of this, but the real teaching and example setting begins and ends in the home. God loves all children and dearly wants all of them to come to him.
But there is also a second, equally important lesson in this text. When the disciples asked Jesus what he meant when he spoke to the children, he said, “Unless ones believes with the faith of a child, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
What Jesus means is that our faith in him at its very core should resemble the simple trust a child puts in his or her loving parent to give them good things and protect them from harm. And what else could be more natural. God created us, he redeemed us, and he now empowers us to live a life pleasing to him.
Yes, our faith should grow as we study his Word and commune with him in prayer. But the seed that sprouts this growth is not some secret knowledge or code that only the wise or privileged have access to. It’s the simple trust so beautifully expressed in the words of that children’s song I opened this article with. Remember this always. Jesus loves you, personally. And in the words of the Apostle John, “We love Him, because he first loved us.”
Blessings on your and your family, old and young.
Peter Spallek has been pastor of Shepherd of the Desert Lutheran Church since September 2007. He attended Concordia University in Irvine, Calif., receiving a bachelor of arts in parish education; and Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, where he received a master of arts in theology.
Visit the church’s website at http://tinyurl.com/pagelutheran.
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