Summary: Jesus said that we must change to become like children. What must you change?
Precious little potential adults. Tiny packages of compressed energy. Imagination factories. Tricycle motors. Curtin Climbers. What ever you call them they are the main reason we have balloons and Happy Meals and birthday parties and lawn sprinklers on hot summer days and Easter Egg Hunts.
They turn mothers into mommies and fathers into daddies. They can turn a tear into a smile in twelve seconds flat. Or an immaculately clean house to a dump in less time than that. Truth tellers, and chaos creators. Heart breakers. Memory makers.
In the space of about nine months they can accomplish what their grandparents couldn’t in two decades; turn twenty-something-year-old party animals into responsible, church-going, bill-paying adults. They turn spenders into savers. Leavers into stay-ers. Pagans into pray-ers.
They leave fingerprints on our windows and our hearts. They are a gift of the Lord. And of all the things He created, the Lord was most impressed with children. Our text today comes from Matthew 18:1 – 4 Lets listen to this beautiful text together. (Read text, pray).
What is it about children that makes them models of the kingdom?
Surely Jesus doesn’t want us all to become terrible two-year-olds defiantly shouting "No!", ignoring boundaries, and generally making pests of ourselves. You know I have discovered that there are children, then there are kids. Children are sweet. Kids can be mean, as when they tease and bully others. Obviously, Jesus doesn’t intend to sanctify these characteristics.
So what does he mean when he says, "Unless you change and become like little children?" When I read that I always think of my own childhood. I was, to be modest about it, an angel.
Like the time my mother let us stay overnight with some friends from church. And I thought, "My friends little sister needs my example, my teaching. What can I teach her that will help her be a better person?"
Well it was around December and the next big holiday was Christmas, so I thought she needed to know everything about Christmas. Well I began to tell about the big man in the red suit and how he lived in a cold land and really had trouble when he came to the hotter areas of the world. And he really didn’t know the culture and customs of places like Rome so the year before he really messed up and Romans crucified him.
I feel like I have always been a great teacher and she picked up on the point of the story very quickly. At least I think she was quoting me correctly as she ran down the hall crying. Boy sometimes it is hard to talk to a four year old.
Then there was the time that…
Well I could spend days telling you about pouring boxes of Jell-o into the neighbors pool so that we could walk across it, or about the time I stuck finishing nails into a B.B. gun and shot at passing cars but who has the time for that.
Anyway, not all children are like me when I was growing up, so we need to think about what Jesus means when he says, "Unless you become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven."
So what is it about a child that makes them models of the kingdom?
It could be that children delight in helping others.
Whenever I set out to tackle a project, what is Trafton’s first question? "Can I help?" Not what are you doing, Not how do you do it, but can I help?
Remember the old Shake-n-Bake commercials? This little girl appears on the screen holding a dish from the oven. Her dad is beaming down at her. In the thickest Southern drawl you’ve ever heard she says, "It’s Shake-n-Bake, daddy, and I helped." Children love to help. But I don’t really think that’s what Jesus was talking about.
Maybe it’s because Children believe that anything is possible.
With kids it is always possible. Their imagination always asks why not. They don’t get all hung up on the quality of the service they provide or whether it’s practical or not. Who cares if the lemonade is warm and the cookies are stale. As far as they are concerned, there lemonade stand is the finest in the country and people will line up for miles to buy their wares. But I don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind either.
It could be because in a Childs mind we are all equal.
Children don’t ask why someone needs to be served or if they deserve to be served. We adults want to explore the reasons for a person’s current plight. What created this situation? Who’s fault was it? What bad decisions did you make?
If we determine that the person is to blame for the situation he or she is in, we still might help, but we won’t help with a good heart. All children see is a person in need and an opportunity to do something big. But I still don’t think that this what Jesus had in mind.