The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. Mark 10:13-16 (Message)
Don’t you wish you could go back and see the world through the eyes of a child? That wide-eyed enthusiasm, simplicity, care-free spirit, and longing for nothing but fun is something we, as adults, rarely see in one another. But, kids get it. Much more than we do.
And, sadly, just as the disciples did, we overlook the profound examples of faith children provide us. We brush them aside, and think we, as “big people” have all the right answers. But, if you read Jesus’ words in the passage above, you cannot escape Jesus’ disdain for this type of attitude. Jesus warns us that we had better not come between him and the children.
Children may not have the mental capacity to understand the deeper meanings and symbolism presented in scripture. They may not know the names of all 12 disciples. They may not even realize yet that there is an Old Testament and a New Testament. But, Jesus never told us these things were important. There was only one bit of truth that he wanted us to grasp: that He came, died, and was risen to new life for us.
I was reminded of this recently with my own son, Chandler. He just turned 7. We were at the dinner table, and had just said the blessing. My wife had prayed for a friend, asking God that this woman would see the need for Him in her life. When she finished, my 11-year old son said, “I thought she was a Christian.” My wife replied that this lady had been to church, but had not asked Jesus in her heart.
So, Chandler responds, “Well, how do you do that?” Great question. One we have prayed he would ask.
We proceeded to have a discussion about God, Jesus, the problem of sin, the life and death of Jesus, and His resurrection. This was nothing new to Chandler. He knows “the facts.” But, I could see something was stirring inside him.
Later that evening, I called Chandler to come upstairs. We sat on his bed, and I asked him if he remembered the discussion we had at dinner about Jesus and how we can be with him in heaven if we tell him that we believe in him. He said, “Yeah. Can I do that right now?” Wow. Be still my heart.
I asked him some questions to make absolutely certain that he understood what was happening. He did. I said, “Buddy, if you know that Jesus died for your sins, and that you want to be with him in heaven when you leave earth, then you don’t have to wait any more. You can do it right now.”
He said, “I want to do it right now.”
I took his little hands in mine, and we prayed. It was one of the most tender, special moments of my life. While it was quiet and peaceful in his bedroom, I can guarantee you there was a party like none other that was being held in heaven at that moment.
Later that night, Chandler got to tell his mom and his brother about the decision he made. More tears of joy, more laughter and hugs and kisses.
Then, he wanted to call his grandparents. With each of his grandparents taking turns individually, Chandler explained matter-of-factly, “I let Jesus in my heart.”
He “let” him in. I was immediately struck by the profound nature of his choice of words. He didn’t say that he asked Jesus in. He seemed to understand that he didn’t need to ask. He just needed to “let.” Jesus was ready. And, on May 2, 2011, so was Chandler.