Witness To and For Children

“The Witness Of and To Children”  Psalm 34:8-14; Matthew 18:1-6; 19:13-15  11-8-15

For a video of part of this worship service, including children/cherub/adult choirs and homily, click here

One of the most powerful motivators in the world are children.  George and Julianne were about to split apart and then when they had a child- that visible symbol of love for each other- they stay together and learn to love each other.  I have seen a man who really didn’t care what kind of job he had- and didn’t care about the work he did- change his life entirely and become fully motivated to provide for his family when a child comes.  Women who were unmotivated in their lives and seemed wandering become purposeful and energized.  The amazing thing is that children suck a lot of energy from you and also the funds seem to not go as far.  Yet studies have corroborated that people with children are generally more content with their lives- of course there are exceptions.  But children also motivate us to get straight with the Lord.  We want to teach them values and encourage them in morals.  As I have said several times, many join our church through our Preschool or Day School Ministries.  It is one thing to say values do not matter- but we see that while we may not be motivated to do right by ourselves we want our children to be respected and be respectful.   Children witness to us in some ways- just by their existence.  It is really hard to hold a baby that you love and not be grateful to God for the miracle of life. Of course, not everyone is called by God to have children.  Jesus didn’t have children.  As far as we know Paul was married but didn’t have children.  Some want children but cannot or could not have them.  God works with everyone as an individual according to His call upon their lives.  Yet, it would be wrong to say that children are always a burden and do not help us in life.  Children are an essential part of our generation.        Jesus was a deep preacher.  He preached in parables and stories.  The great thing about the preaching of Jesus is that there was something for everyone.  When he says look at the birds of the air and the lilies of the field- and see how they do not worry but God provides for them- that is for all ages- all generations.         Now children can do foolish things, and do not have experience and have to be taught certain things to be sure.  They have little power or money.  Perhaps this is why when the mothers wanted Jesus to bless their children the disciples told them to go away.  But Jesus was not wowed by money and power.  Jesus had no money and wanted no political power.  He didn’t start the Jesus Party when he was on earth- we would do well to learn that lesson.  However, that doesn’t mean he didn’t speak to the immorality and lack of faith in his day.  Maybe one of the lessons from “the greatest in the kingdom must humble themselves like a little child” is to avoid the money and power lusts that the world holds before us.  You don’t see children wanting political power or money- and Jesus did not want that either.       But I want to point out that the key in this passage is that adults should NOT HINDER CHILDREN.  We should not physically say children have no place at the table.  Children are an important part of our church- not just in the future- but right now.       Adults hinder children by thinking that they are better- and not focusing on the next generation.  So let me ask you older adults- have you gone out of your way to do something for a child?  Are you part of our prayer team that adopts a child in prayer?  Are you giving to our children’s ministry building?  This provides first class space for our children.  Have you taught Sunday School to a child who needs to learn?  I think our children’s program and youth program are great not because of the staff- but because of the adults who have volunteered and gone beyond themselves to help.          Adults hinder children when we do not care for our children.  You know the key to raising children?  Love them.   One of the things I have loved about being in Chapin is the care shown for children and youth here.  2.3 million children are neglected in America each year.  These are children who do not get the food or the age appropriate care that they need.   We, as a church, are giving 35 snackpacks away each weekend to help prevent child hunger.  Yet children who are left alone to care for themselves when they are too young suffer the rest of their lives emotionally, mentally, socially, and I would also add more importantly spiritually.  Neglected children are five times more likely to attempt suicide than those whose parents show care. This is a spiritual issue.   Jesus contrasts welcoming children to causing children to sin.          Adults hinder children when we do not pass the faith onto the next generation.  The mothers who brought Jesus their children so He could bless them are to be commended.  Caring that your children be brought to Jesus is one of the best things you can do for them.  We want our children to be blessed- and the greatest blessing is not at the foot of a boss giving money, or a professor giving knowledge, or a politician giving an award.  The biggest blessing comes from the One who has all blessing, honor, glory, and power- who sits on the throne of the world.  Passing the faith on from one generation to the next means bringing them to worship- the One who is worthy of worship.         There was  study by ABC News this May that found that among those young people who went to church 52% of the time or more- less than a third went to church or Bible study at all in college.  Yet 76% of college students said they want a spiritual life.  The norm seems to be to give up in college and somehow hope you get your faith back after that.  This is a travesty.

Peter Pan is in some ways about the lost boys who were used to doing whatever they wished.  But it is so mild mannered compared to so many today.  U2 has a song that came out last year called “Raised by Wolves” pointing out how so many have been forsaken by human parents- to raise themselves.   But the grace of God is that there are still people who not only love their children emotionally, but love them with their time and love them by caring for their souls- and not just their bodies.   The young people who are strong on the inside, who know where to find inner courage and peace are going to change the world.  Keep the faith.  Teach that faith to your children, so they would know to make good choices when they are on their own.