“Let the little children come to me…”
These seemingly innocent words from Jesus were revolutionary in the first century. The youngest generation had little or no value in Roman society. Unless you could fully provide for yourself, you were not fully human. It was common place for children to be discarded and neglected simply because of their youth. So, Jesus’ words made everyone stop and listen. Here are two big ideas from Jesus’ words to the children.
1. Christ-followers make sacrifices to reach kids. One of the core values of Community Church is that we will do whatever it takes to point kids and teens to Jesus. It has been lived out in so many different ways from the way we set up our facility, to they way we steward our resources, to the time we give to ministry.
Christ followers understand that they must be willing to give up their preferences and wants so that those who don’t know Christ yet can find him. This goes well beyond just how we relate to kids, but to the whole scope of how we think about church. There are many people in our central Michigan area that are babes in Christ or simply have no faith in God at all. Community Church has always been an outward-focused community that sees the urgency of reaching the lost. It is so easy to become a holy huddle of already convinced Christians who are unwilling to change to open the door to non-christians and new Christians. I am always amazed by the ways that the early church changed Jewish traditions that went back thousands of years in order to reach a Gentile world who were far from God. Community Church has said we will see beyond ourselves to those in need. It is not easy, but it is our identity as Christ-followers.
2. Christ-followers give grace and show humility. Jesus made a statement that unless someone becomes like a child, he or she can never enter the kingdom of heaven. What did Jesus mean? Did he mean that we need to be immature or that we need to make more of a mess when we eat dinner? No, what he meant was that we need to strive to be last not first. We need to be humble.
We live in a Burger King culture that says, “you can have it”…what…”your way.” If it isn’t our way than we can complain until we get it our way. In our day we have become experts at complaining. We have made an art of it. It is the common thread of most people’s everyday conversation. We see the speck in someone else’s eye and miss their beautiful face. We see someone’s flaw and miss their compassionate heart. We see our wants not being met and we fail to see others needs.
Jesus was always very good about teaching us broken humans about our pride, selfishness and humility. What he does over and over again is to simply asks us to look into the mirror and see our own faults, weaknesses and desperate need for grace. It is out of our accurate picture of ourselves that we find a proper sense of humility that reaches out to others.
Consider the balance. Do you bless more than you complain? Do you give grace more than you find fault? Are you looking at the world searching for flaws or are you looking at the world searching for God’s blessing? Do you make the most with what you have or do you complain about what you don’t have? How does this play out in your family? In your work place? In your town? In your church?
We will all eventually get this right. If you are a Christ-follower, some day soon, in a few decades or so, you will move from this life to the next. In heaven, complaining won’t be an issue. Why? We may think because heaven is bliss and God will provide everything our hearts desire. But that’s actually backward. In heaven, humility will be made complete and our deepest longings will simply be to live for God’s purposes and we will no longer be constrained by a self-focused life.
This Sunday, I was so impressed with Community Church as we devoted our morning to the importance of pointing the next generation to Jesus. Kids were everywhere. They were playing music, singing, greeting, passing out donuts and doing that all with adults who saw the importance of making kids a priority. It was a great moment that points to our mission to give of ourselves, sacrifice our space and see beyond ourselves in order that more people would know the blessing of salvation in Christ. That is Community Church. God is at work and on the move!!