Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
At our weekly fellowship supper, the last Wednesday of July, we explored together Matthew 18-19. In Chapter 18 Jesus brings a little child into their midst. In verse 6, He says, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Jesus does not just refer to any millstone, but to a large one, and not just any place, but the sea, which, for the Jews, was a place to be greatly feared and avoided. In this bit of rabbinic hyperbole, Jesus is expressing the extreme importance of being careful what we teach (or do not teach) to our children. For us to sin is one thing, but to teach children to sin (“stumble,’ as this passage states it) is among the greatest of travesties in the Kingdom of God.
Raising up children to be among “those who believe in me,” whether they are our children, our grandchildren, or the young people in our church family, is a great responsibility. When a child is baptized, we as a congregation vow to “do all in our power to support these persons in their life in Christ.
In our flawed and fallen human condition, none of us is going to get child-rearing perfectly right, but that does not lessen the gravity and importance of the calling. It is about either the destruction or maintenance of a child’s innocence. It is about teaching a child to avoid sin or to “stumble,” to honor God or ignore Him, to seek and obey God’s good and perfect will for his or her life or go the way of the world. Parenting and the nurture of children are therefore an awesome and grave responsibility.
Here are a few things we can do to shape young lives into becoming inheritors of the Kingdom of God:
· Let your child know that God is important. If God is important to you, He will most likely be important to him or her. Being a nominal Christian, keeping God at the periphery of your life, and not seeking to allow God to transform and dictate your life and behavior, will teach your child to do the same.
· Let your child or grandchild know that Sunday is indeed the Lord’s Day, a day to honor God and gather as the Body of Christ. It is good and proper that Sundays be days of family fun and relaxation, but Sundays are not like just any other day.
· Let them know that prayer is contact and conversation with God, something good to do. God listens and cares. God answers prayer. Simply praying at bedtime, or praying around the dinner table, either at home or in a restaurant, can contribute significantly to forming our children in the Christian Worldview.
· Let your children know that learning about God and how to live as a Christian is as important as what they are learning in school or elsewhere. As a parent, let them know that Sunday school is important and not to be left as an option for them to choose.
· Let your child know that there is something special about Scripture. Read and discuss the Bible with them, even if it is just a short passage each evening.
· Finally, let them know that being a Christian is being different. We live in a secular society with different values and morals. To be identifiably a Christian in a non-Christian world is their way of being faithful to Jesus.