November 21, 2017

Kids in the Mainstream - Jesus' Ministry

This is the first in a series of posts about kids belonging in the mainstream of church life.

When you picture Jesus and his disciples, do you picture children with them?  I mean, except for that one time when he had to rebuke the disciples. If we look closely, several episodes in the Gospels indicate that Jesus often had kids around during his ministry years.

We get the following exchange in Matthew 18: 1-5

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, . . ." (ESV)

Jesus called a child and put him in the middle. Notice that Jesus didn't have to send someone out to find a child somewhere. The child (maybe several children) were already with Jesus and his disciples. We’ll see in future posts that Jesus seems to have had children around all the time.

Jesus told his disciples:

  • to turn and become like children

  • to  humble themselves like children, and

  • to receive children.

These three things would be very difficult for the disciples to do if they weren’t around children regularly!

Imagine two people, both trying to become like children and humble themselves like children. One has a list of childlike qualities to emulate. The other actually spends time with children. The one with the list will struggle with the abstract task. But the one who is around children catches their qualities like catching a cold. This one enters the kingdom of heaven like a child and becomes great in the kingdom while becoming humble.

Jesus was wise to spend time with children, and we would be too!

How do you and your church community treat children? Are they in the mainstream of church life?

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