The Faith of a Child Changes Everything
The 3rd Sunday after Pentecost
The Faith of a Child Changes Everything
Text: Mark 10:13-16
What a week! What a group of kids! What great faith! It’s always amazing to observe the Vacation Bible School children in action during VBS week. There were many memorable moments. I think of Mrs. Stacey teaching 3- and 4-year-olds about Moses and the Red Sea as they split into two groups and the rest walked through the middle “on dry ground.” I think of the smiles so many children wore as they had lots of fun with their friends learning more about Jesus. I think of the children dashing out of the church to their parents’ cars to tell them what they learned and to show them what they made. And how about that singing? It’s hard not to be moved by the passionate and joyful singing by such a big crowd of children. They don’t care about notes or pitch or tone. They just sing to Jesus with all their heart.
That reminds me of my favorite story from this last week, maybe one of my favorite stories of all time from VBS. While I was greeting parents in the car rider line Friday, one of the mothers told me that she took the kids shopping after VBS on Thursday. A brave feat since she picked up four other kids and then had six with her in the store! While they were in the checkout line at Publix, one of the kids started singing one of the songs they learned this last week. Without hesitation, all six joined in to sing the song. People were stopping what they were doing to see and hear what was going on.
I suppose that was a rather symbolic moment. The children were bursting with joy and enthusiasm—letting their lights shine into the world without any hindrance. But the adults stopped and dropped their jaws to witness this “strange” occurrence. How typical.
But we adults know better, don’t we? They’re just kids. What do they know? Everything to them is rainbows and ice cream and dreams of sugarplums dancing in their heads. Of course they are going to be positive and up-beat and carefree. What do they know? They haven’t really experienced life yet.
They haven’t had to pay any bills yet. They don’t know what it’s like to choose which bills you pay and which ones you hope to pay for soon. They don’t know what it’s like to work—what it’s like to have to do the same thing day and night every single day just to survive and make a living. Kids don’t know what it’s like to get old and slow down. They don’t have sore, aching, and failing joints and body parts. They don’t really know the dangers in this world. They have no clue how much evil is surrounding us. They don’t know how much people make fun of or hate Christians. Children don’t know how much this life is filled with struggles, suffering, and sadness. What do they know?
Sounds a lot like the disciples to me. Jesus and his disciples were on the move. They had been all over Judea. They had crossed over the Jordan River to “heathen country.” Soon they would be on their way to Jerusalem with Jesus for the final time. By this point Jesus had put in almost three years of ministry. His reputation was near celebrity status. Everywhere he went he was mobbed by people looking for miracles, healings, food, or just some more powerful preaching.
We cut in on his ministry and his travels in Mark 10 and we are told: “People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.” “Get these rug rats out of here! Don’t you know we’re busy? We’re traveling. We can’t be slowed down by children. Jesus is teaching and preaching here. He can’t be interrupted by tykes and toddlers! Please just leave Jesus and us alone!”
Jesus had other thoughts, though. “When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.” Jesus was disturbed. He was angry. He was troubled. He was upset. So Jesus famously said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Jesus tells us something profound with these words. He tells us that children belong to the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is not a physical kingdom with city walls and a big palace in the middle. God’s kingdom is spiritual. To be a part of God’s kingdom is to be a believer, to have faith. So Jesus was really saying, “Let the little children come to me because they can have faith and are believers too.”
This is even more profound when we understand what kind of children were being brought to Jesus. These weren’t middle school or high school children. The original word for little children means really little children, specifically ages 0-4. These parents were bringing infants and toddlers and Preschoolers to Jesus, and Jesus welcomed them as he said that even they can have faith and believe.
This might seem unusual. What does a little child or a baby know about Jesus? How can they have faith? Well one thing we know for sure is that children aren’t innocent. All children, even young babies are sinners. King David said, “Surely I was sinful from birth.” Solomon said, “There is no one who does good, not even one.” Romans says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” If you doubt that children are sinful, put one toy in a room with two children . . . or just watch my son Noah for a day. All people, including children, are sinners.
So how do they get a connection to Jesus and his forgiveness then? Through God’s power and God’s means. God tells us how he works in baptism to bring the forgiveness of sins and connect to Jesus. Those baptized into Christ are clothed with Christ the Bible says. God also works through his mighty Word to change the hearts of children. That’s why we do VBS. That’s why we have our school. To teach children about Jesus. And God surely works quickly and powerfully in the hearts of children. You saw (and heard) their faith on display this morning. I think of the night several months ago when we were saying bedtime prayers and Noah, who was three at the time, he just burst out, “Daddy, Jesus is God and God is Jesus.” “Well, yes, Noah! That’s right!” Jesus wants the little children to come to him because they are believers, too.
How shameful then when we are like the disciples, hindering children and their faith! We act like we know better. They don’t know how much they (or I) need to sleep in on Sunday. We need family time at the beach or at Disney. We don’t get to spend time together during the week. That’s what Sunday is for. I want my child to be the best he can be at basketball or soccer or baseball, sometimes he/she needs to play games on Sunday.
Who really does know better? The child with the beaming faith, eager to hear about Jesus and sing to Jesus and worship Jesus, or the parent who wants to do something else? How shameful when we hinder our children from being around, hearing, and growing in the Word of God at church, in school, or in our homes. Listen to Jesus! “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.”
There’s a greater spiritual problem in our lives though. Jesus doesn’t only tell us to bring our little children. Jesus also tells us to be like little children. Listen to Jesus in verse 15, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
“But they just don’t understand,” we say. “They don’t know how tough life is. They don’t know how complicated life is.” But again ask yourself, who are the ones that really don’t get it? Children who are so happy and joyful and who simply and strongly put their faith and trust in Jesus? Or we who let everything else get in the way and cloud our judgment and strangle our faith?
We think we know so much as adults. We’ve grown. We’ve matured. We’ve learned about “the world.” We’ve learned about “life.” We have the battle wounds and scars of suffering and sadness to prove it. But the truth is, most often we act like we really know nothing at all.
We work, work, work because we need money and we need to provide for our families. But then we are just too tired to read our Bibles at home. Who has time for family devotions when homework needs to be done? Who can stay awake to pray when I need to just pass out in bed after a long day? Who has time for Bible studies during the week or on Sundays? I have a to-do list a mile long! And who really wants to wear their faith or share their faith in public? Don’t you know what others will think? Don’t you know the looks and scoffs I’ll get from others?
We think we know so much. But when we squeeze Jesus out of our lives and prioritize “my life” and “my things” first, we in essence are showing that we really know nothing at all. Worse, we are showing that we are sinners. And as sinners, Jesus’ love and heaven are the last thing we should ever deserve or receive.
Jesus instead tells us to, “receive the kingdom of God like a little child.” Jesus wants us to have faith like a child. So why do children sing so loudly I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice and Jesus, I adore you? What is it that they trust so much with all their hearts? Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. That’s what they know. That’s what they believe. That’s what they trust.
We can too. The Bible does tell us about how Jesus loved us. Jesus himself became a little child. He was born into this world as one of us, as our brother. He lived among us with absolute perfection—always putting his Father and his will first. Then in greatest love he even laid down his life, dying to pay for all our sins. Every wrong we’ve done—including all our self-centered, mis-focused living—was washed away and forgiven. Through his life and death I have been made his dear child and given the gift of eternal life. That’s what children trust with pulsating hearts of faith. That’s what we can trust too, with the faith of a child.
The Faith of a Child Changes Everything. A childlike faith changes the way we live. It changes what we do in our homes. It changes how we act in our community. It changes how we deal with others. It changes what we do during the week and what we do on Sunday. A childlike faith leads us to live like children—with joy and gladness and peace.
Pastor Aaron Schultz learned this. Pastor Schultz and his wife found out 17 weeks into pregnancy that their daughter-to-be had a severe condition that would likely mean she would not live long. The doctor even mentioned abortion to them. Yet for 23 weeks the couple pressed on as they struggled and stressed about what was likely coming. Baby Ellen was finally born in 2009 and lived eight and a half hours. In those short, cherished moments Pastor Schultz baptized his daughter and baby Ellen was washed of her sins and connected to Jesus and his love. Not long after was the funeral. As family and friends gathered in sadness, what a shock it was when Pastor Schultz spontaneously began to sing on his own: Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow. Reminds us of the six children in Publix this last week. That’s the faith of a child.
The Faith of a Child Changes Everything. It changes what we do. It changes how we live. It changes our outlook on life. Listen to Jesus today. With the faith of a little child, bring your children to Jesus. Regularly. And with the faith of a little child, cling to your Savior’s love and rejoice every day. Jesus loves the little children, and he loves you too.
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Posted on July 3, 2011, in Church, Sermons and tagged Baptism, Church, Faith, Faith of a Child, Infant Baptism, Let the Little Children, Little Children, Love, Mark, Mark 10, Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.