“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14
Along with a change in the numbers of church going people today, the forgotten are the youngsters who are missing out on one of God’s greatest blessings to His people – the ability to share in His message of forgiveness of our sins and eternal life along with others in corporate praise and thanksgiving.
Christ used children as an example, because of the kind of childlike faith they exhibit. What a perfect description. We are all to come as little children, with minds open and willing to believe, because we trust Him. It’s a tremendous responsibility for parents. It isn’t about pushing them into a pew on Sunday morning, or struggling to get them ready. It’s about making sure they ‘re grounded in God’s Word from the beginning.
As I look back at the days when my children were toddlers – the memory of getting them out of bed on Sunday morning isn’t a pretty one. They would much rather have stayed in bed. As they grew into teenagers, this became even more of a struggle, but by then, they knew that crawling back under the covers wasn’t an option. They were crabby, didn’t want to go, had incurable ailments, nothing to wear, every excuse in the book, but they went to church.
Once there, it was another story. Distractions were everywhere. Cheerios in a plastic container would keep them quiet for a while, but the inevitable walk out in the middle of the sermon, became natural for us and them. Soon the walks stopped and so did the wiggling. As they grew older, in spite of the teenaged child occasionally falling asleep, the Holy Spirit was doing His work in their hearts.
OK, we were ramming it down their throats – some might say. Aren’t we all like that at times? Aren’t we all like kids when it comes to being told how we shouldn’t be doing something wrong? We don’t like discipline, but if we’re to become responsible adults its necessary. Isn’t the word “sin” offensive? Why would any caring parent want to instill that kind of fear into their precious child’s mind?
Well, God demands it of us. We’re told in scripture to teach God’s Word to our children. We’re required to start when they’re young. It’s an admonishment from God Himself and a responsibility that many parents don’t want to do, for fear that it will scar their children.
What’s wrong with that kind of thinking? Let’s take a look at children today. Many of them are suffering from depression before they reach middle school. Bullying is at an all time high. Children are committing suicide at an alarming rate. Self mutilation/cutting is not unusual. Some have become on drugs or alcohol to soothe the inner pain. They’re unhappy with their lives because something is missing from them. They don’t have that fail/safe message that, even though we’re sinners, God loves us and has solved the problem.
Kids need to know they have a champion – one who will be with them throughout their lives, even when others fail them. They’re longing for the safety and protection of a super hero. They want to know that they have merit, that they’re loved, that a wonderful future is already laid out for them, both here and in eternity. We all need to know that.
So why is it important for parents to bring their children to church? As children of God, we need a safe haven – a refuge from the horrors of the world. Church is a place where we can share our love for God and thank Him for His grace. We can support, encourage and help each other. We can prepare ourselves and them for the week ahead and for the rest of our lives.
Our children are on loan to us really. They belong first to God. He’s placed them in our care for a short time and it’s our duty to make sure they know about their true Father. Have your kids take you to church this week to get reacquainted with Him.