Today I want to spend a little more time on our current verse about children and Christ’s indignance when they are harmed or kept from him or, more to the point, harmed by being kept from him. We are in Mark 10:13-16
“13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”
Our discussion regarding v.14 has garnered a lot comments about the proper treatment of children. How they should worship and whether they should worship with their parents. Most of the comments were along the same lines as my own thoughts ‘keep them in the worship service’. Now I feel that way because I have come to believe that it’s an important part of ‘bringing a child up’ in the way they should go. It’s a part of the ongoing Christian discipleship that must take place in a household. It’s learning how to go to church and be a part of a church and sit in awe in the congregation as it worships the ‘only true God’ and as his Word is unfolded Sunday by Sunday. It’s not about a feeling or a happy-clappy sense of ‘golly this makes me feel much better about myself’ or an emotional lift, it has to be an expression of our gratitude and our awe at who God is and that he would reveal what he has of himself in the first place. Praise the Lord.
So the first way that the church, acting as the disciples did in these verses, keep the children from the Lord and therefore incur his indignance is by rebuking those parents who want to bring them before him in worship. Extended Session and Childrens Church are so ingrained into the cultures of the churches I have been a part of in the past that those who did bring their kids to the worship service were, in essence, rebuked. You know, as much as a non-disciplining Southern Baptist Church can rebuke someone. It’s more along the lines of a dirty look. The message is clear, children aren’t supposed to be in worship. They might disturb someone who’s trying to make a decision.
Which brings us to the second way that the church, acting as the disciples did in these verses, keep the children from the Lord and therefore incur his indignance, that is, holding to a man-made doctrine that elevates the felt-needs of a person above our clear calling in scripture to raise our children in a way that pleases God. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states very clearly the SBC’s position that children are not sinners until they reach a certain age and the fits with the general outlook of the church membership in general. There has to be a certain event where the child sins on purpose and then they are in danger of hellfire—but not before. This has led us as a convention to the point where we think we have some breathing room before we have to get serious about disciplining our children and I think that’s a terrible, terrible mistake. All we are really doing is giving the world extra time to get a foothold in their life. All we are really doing is ignoring those wonderful first years when a child’s brain is like a sponge and soaks up every thing and every experience is a learning experience.
That in and of itself is travesty enough and should incur the wrath of even the average oblivious church member.
Here’s what I am saying. Our man-centered confession, has caused us to deny the fact that children need to be discipled in the faith. Children. Our focus has been on the youth for so long that we have forgotten, or so it seems, that babies, ones, twos, threes, fours, fives, kindergarteners, first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders need it too. Desperately. And so while a church pours itself out on the youth, the rest of the children are starving to death for the Word of God.
The third way, similar to the second, that the church, acting as the disciples did in these verses, keep the children from the Lord and therefore incur his indignance, is that we have denied the sovereignty of God in salvation for overly sentimental reasons. Specifically, we are unable to bring ourselves to the point where we can admit that God sends sinners to hell because they deserve it. And that’s because our definition of sin has become ‘something that you do’ not something that you are. We are all sinners. Some of us are saved by the grace of God some of us are not and it matters not what our age it ‘ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ and that all is big enough to cover the entire human race under the curse all by itself even if it wasn’t supported by a jillion other verses. ALL have sinned…from embryo to octogenarian. We are a fallen race.
And that’s a tough pill to swallow.
But, finally, in our denial of God’s choice in salvation, of his sovereignty in all things we have put ourselves in the place of God. We the parents, the church member, the church—we have said “My child’s salvation won’t be determined by a God like that, a God that sends babies to hell.” We have put ourselves in God’s place once more and rebelled against him. Just like in the garden, just like we do every day; further proving that we have been duly condemned as a species by a Sovereign and Holy God.
Now I have to ask, because I’m not sure why: Who are we to stand in the place of God? Who are we that we think we can say, to a Holy God, “No! you cannot have my child!”—dare we? And yet how many times have we done this very thing, received first the approval of the church as we talk our children into their ‘decision’ and then the scorn of the church as they falter under their own power? And then we have the nerve to act surprised when they drink, smoke and fornicate their way through high-school and the prime place to meet ‘chicks’ is the local youth group.
““Let the children come to me” says The Indignant Christ in this passage “do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Correct me if I am wrong, dear readers, and we’ll both be better off for it.
Oher recent posts about children: