The Faith of a Child
Vacation Bible School Sunday
The Faith of a Child
1. Our shared mission
2. Our shared model
Text: Mark 10:13-16
After a long, hard day of work at the office that was also an incredibly exhausting day with over 200 kids at Vacation Bible School, my pillow felt really good at night. But then after a long, hard day of work that included over 200 VBS kids, I really was not happy to hear at 4:30 in the morning, “Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!”
Gwen was up. After trying to wait 5-10 minutes and praying she fell asleep, it kept going: “Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!” The usual cave-in happened. Fine. I’ll just grab her and throw in her bed with us. A little juice. Tuck her in. We’ll all sleep and be happy. Until one minute later . . .
“Hungy! Hungy! Hungy!” “Gwen, it’s 4:30 in the morning. You are not hungry.” “Huuunnngy!” “Ugh! What do you want? (Something easy) Crackers?” “Nooo.” “Goldfish?” “Nooo.” “What do you want?” “Waffle.” “Gwen, you are not having a waffle.” “Waffle! Waffle! Waffle!” She got a waffle.
Oh, kids. Can’t live with ‘em . . . can’t live with ‘em. That’s just one story from one kid. What about all the other crying and whining and pouting and screaming and sicknesses and bills (Oh, the bills!). Then some have multiple children! I keep telling our new principal who is expecting his fifth, “Good luck, brave man. Good luck.” Oh, kids. They sure are cute and they sure are great. But sometimes you can’t help but think: Can’t live with ‘em . . . can’t live with ‘em.
Maybe that’s what the disciples thought one day around 2,000 years ago. They had been busy. About three years worth of ministry was under Jesus’ belt. He had been healing and helping, preaching and teaching to thousands of people. He had turned water into wine. He had walked on water. He had raised the dead. Now once more they were being swarmed by crowds of people as they made their way up to Jerusalem. By this time this was common.
How annoying then when people started bringing their little children to Jesus! These weren’t any children either. They were specifically pre-pubescent children under the age of seven. Most specifically, they were likely children in the 0-4 age range.
Great! Just what they needed! With all the commotion of crowds of people chattering it up and begging Jesus for help, now there are a bunch of toddlers and VPK students crying and whining and grabbing on their robes. How annoying! There were better things to do! There were more important people to help! So they took action: “People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.” They were helping Jesus out and making his life a little less stressful! Wouldn’t Jesus be so pleased?
He wasn’t. “When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’” If you are part of the kingdom of God, that means that you are a believer, a Christian. Jesus was indignant with the disciples because they were preventing his people, his believers—these little children—from being around him and learning from him and being blessed by him. How shameful!
But I wonder if sometimes we don’t feel a little like those disciples. What a nuisance kids can be! You should have seen our campus at 12:30pm Friday after 5 days of VBS. It took over four hours to clean just this sanctuary. Crumbs and mulch and paper scraps were all over the chairs. Then there were sequins and glitter. Oh my, the sequins! Crooked rows. Hymnals backwards. Fingerprints all over every window and door. The bathrooms were a mess. There was even blue chalk on the wall in the hallway. How does that happen? Why do we do this again?
A couple children got bumps and scrapes. Band-Aids were always ready and on hand. They spilled juice. Some cried. Some pushed and shoved. Why do we do this again?
I suppose that makes us think about school. There are bumps and bruises every day. There’s crying and whining every day. There are a lot of dirty diapers that get changed. Mulch gets thrown. Names are called. Feelings are hurt. More crying. And over 70% of our CTK budget is spent on the school! We have to somehow pay for 25 full time staff members next year. We have to move a principal all the way from Omaha, Nebraska. Why do we do this again?
We have this huge school and family emphasis at Christ the King, and then what else happens? It’s loud and noisy at church. Children have to be taken out. Babies are crying. The Vicar’s kid screeches the whole sermon and Pastor’s kid echoes out loud, “Potty! Potty!” Why do we do this again?
But how would Jesus react to such thoughts? Maybe he would say this: “When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’” How shameful it would be for any of us of any age—young or old, single or married, full-nester or empty-nester—to prevent children from being able to be around Jesus and learn from Jesus and be blessed by Jesus!
And that onus and responsibility falls especially onto parents. Parents are especially responsible for training their children in the ways of the Lord. Yet how often aren’t we parents a little bit like those disciples when it comes to having our children around Jesus?
It’s interesting that on Easter Sunday and when we have a free Easter Egg Hunt and Brunch the church is packed. We even had to have two services this year. On VBS Sunday (today), the church is overflowing with people. Parents love to listen to their kids sing!
But are we parents equally eager to listen to Jesus? Why should the church be packed when kids are singing, but when Jesus is speaking every other Sunday of the year it isn’t so important? Why do over 200 children attend a free VBS during the week, but on Sunday morning when no one’s working and free Bible Study and Sunday school are offered only 5 show up?
Are we parents as eager to take children to church as we are to baseball practice? Are we as eager to talk about Jesus as we are about Dora and the Wonder Pets? Do we read devotions to our children as much as we read Dr. Seuss? Would we rather have our children know multiplication tables rather than Bible stories?
How might Jesus react to such thoughts? Maybe like this: “When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’”
You see, especially for parents, but for all of us of any age or family situation—The Faith of a Child is our shared mission. It is the responsibility of us all to bring our children to Jesus, to support the work of teaching children, to support our school that teaches children, and to welcome children with open arms and a heart ready to share Jesus. Especially here at Christ the King, The Faith of a Child is our shared mission.
On that one crowd- and child-filled day about 2,000 years ago, it wasn’t just the mission of teaching children that Jesus pointed to. Jesus interestingly flipped the situation on the disciples and the other adults gathered around and pointed to the model of a child’s faith as well. “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
The faith of a little child can be so extraordinary. Jesus graciously gives faith even to the youngest of children. It doesn’t matter where she is or who is around, if my daughter sees two lines intersecting she yells out, “Cross! Cross!” The faith of a little child led the 11 year old to stop in my office during VBS and ask where God came from and how could he “always be.” Deep questions from a child’s growing faith! The faith of little children leads them to sing Jesus loves me this I know. Why? Duh! For the Bible tells me so. The faith of a little child leads kids to go home and sing songs they learned at VBS rather than some dumb Lady Gaga or Black Eyed Peas chart-topper. The faith of a little child overflows in a desire to learn more and know more. It spills over in love and kindness, or the thoughtfulness for one girl to color for a pastor she just met an entire booklet with a picture for each story she learned at VBS.
But what do children know, right? They don’t know any better. They haven’t experienced life. They haven’t paid bills. They haven’t had their heart broken. They haven’t lost their job or scratched and clawed to scrape by and make it to the next day.
So we adults who “know better” think, All night, all day . . . Wait . . . are angels watchin’ over me? This is the day the Lord has made? Yeah right! Not with this much back pain! Not when I’m this tired! Father, I adore you, lay my life before you. How I love you? Not when I’m this busy! I have other things to do! I need some rest! I need time to myself! Not when you let this much bad happen to me, God!
That’s real life, right? Not this “kid stuff.” Real people—adults—have doubts and worries and problems and suffering and troubles and heartaches and pains. That’s the real world, kids.
Then Jesus’ words painfully resound in our ears once more: “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” You see, The Faith of a Child isn’t only our shared mission and responsibility, it is also our shared model. The Faith of a Child is precisely what God wants each of us to have.
So what is it that makes The Faith of a Child so important? Why is it that this is our shared mission? Why is The Faith of a Child supposed to be a model for all of us? Why is this such a big deal—so big that we would spend an entire week on a VBS and an entire Sunday talking about it?
It’s not the children that are the important part. It’s not even their faith that is the important part. It’s the object of that faith that truly matters most—Jesus Christ.
Jesus wasn’t some politician shaking hands and kissing babies, trying to make a good name for himself. Jesus truly had care and compassion for every lost soul, including even the youngest and the smallest of little children.
This was status quo for Jesus—his M.O. for ministry. He took the time to walk down a side street to heal a blind man and talk about the kingdom of God. He traveled out of his way to Samaria and took time to sit at a well and teach an adulterous woman of that “other” culture. He took time to wake from his nap and calm a storm for his doubting disciples. He took time from his much needed break and rest to feed thousands some bread and fish and the Bread of Life. And here, on his way to Jerusalem to accomplish the mission for which he came, he took the time to hug and bless some toddlers and tykes.
Jesus knew that all people of all ages and all cultures needed him. He knew that even the youngest of children throw tantrums and fight and whine because they are born with the same sinfulness that their parents have. It started with Adam and Eve and it’s been passed down ever since. Jesus also knew that a few toddler tantrums are only the beginning of it. He knew that as we get older we sin badly and boldly. Jesus knew that this world was and is still filled with people desperately lost in failures and faults, in shame and in sin.
So Jesus who stretched out his arms to welcome the little children, lovingly marched on to Jerusalem, climbed a mount called Calvary, and stretched out his arms once more. With the greatest compassion for little children and for big adults, with the greatest love for little sinners and for big sinners, Jesus gave his life and died. It could be just a few tantrums from the youngest child, or it could be an entire lifetime’s worth of shamefulness from an adult—Jesus died to pay for all sins of people.
He died to forgive our sins and so that he could stretch out his arms one more time when he welcomes us into heaven. There God will welcome us all into the peace and joy of an eternity as his little children.
This is the Jesus that little children sing about and jump for joy about. This is the Jesus that little children crave more knowledge about. This is the Jesus that little children confidently trust with unswerving faith. Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Period. End of story.
Friends, this is the Jesus that makes us sing and jump for joy. This is the Jesus that gets us out of bed each and every day to sing This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. This is the Jesus whom we bow before and worship: He is exalted, the King is exalted on high. This is the Jesus that has angels watchin’ over me. This is the Jesus that has the name above all names, Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord, Immanuel, God is with us, Blessed Redeemer, living Word. This is the Jesus whose forgiveness fills us with such joy that we sing, Jesus, I adore, lay my life before you. How I love you!
That’s The Faith of a Child. It’s our shared mission to teach children about Jesus. But The Faith of a Child is also our shared model.
Friends, Jesus welcomes all into his loving and forgiving arms. Teach this to little children. Trust this like little children.
Posted on June 24, 2012, in Church, Sermons and tagged Children, Church, Disciples, Faith, Faith of a Child, Jesus, Little Children, Mark, Mark 10, Mission, Model, Sermons, Vacation Bible School, VBS. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.