“How can I give this to God?”
Our daughter told me that she was amazed by her son’s question as they sat in church yesterday. She thought her son (almost five) wasn’t even paying attention. The pastor was sharing about the importance of offering ourselves and all we do to God. Our grandson was drawing on the children’s bulletin not appearing to be listening at all. Then he asked how he could give the picture he had drawn as his offering to God.
He was responding to the pastor’s message.
We should never underestimate the depth of little children’s understanding.
The disciples tried to “protect” Jesus from the distraction of children as he was teaching and healing those people who followed.
There were no nurseries or children’s ministries then. In fact, women and children were generally left out of religious gatherings during that time. Young boys were allowed to join their fathers when they were around 12 years old – as Jesus did when he went to the temple (Luke 2:42). Yet we know from various accounts in the gospels that many women followed Jesus – and so probably brought their children along as well.
Jesus valued the children and gathered them to himself despite the disciples’ efforts to turn the children away.
Luke 18: 15-16
15 One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him.
16 Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.
I think children’s ministries and nurseries are important. I feel that those who care for and teach the children are such a blessing and are serving God. I look back on my earliest memories of attending church and I remember Sunday School teachers who taught me Biblical truth through their lessons AND their lives. I am so thankful for their willingness to put up with me, one of those wiggly, talkative children. (one teacher even put me out in the hall for talking too much!)
I also feel that there are times when children benefit from participating in the service with their parents. We can learn so much from a child’s response to Biblical teaching and when we experience the service with our children or grandchildren we can talk about the shared worship time. I remember seeing scripture through new eyes when our children shared their understanding of a particular passage. Our example of praying, worshipping through singing, and attentively listening are all examples to our little ones as well.
If Jesus said we needed to be like children to be part of the Kingdom of heaven, then we have much we can learn from these little ones.