Summary: A stewardship sermon focused on bringing children to Jesus.
“Yielding All Things: The Kingdom of God Is Children”
My parents had three children, and my dad worked hard all week.
And since he gave us kids most all his attention when he got home from work, he didn’t have much of any time to himself except for about an hour on Sunday mornings.
My mother would haul my two sisters and I off to Sunday school while my dad took that time for himself.
Later, he would join us all in the worship service.
One morning, when I was about 5 years old, I decided to declare my independence: “Dad, doesn’t go to Sunday school so why should I?” I declared.
From that point on, my dad went to Sunday school.
He gave up the precious little time he had cherished for himself because he wanted to be a good role model for his kids; he knew how important it is for kids to go to Sunday school—to church in general.
Eventually, he started teaching a Sunday school class.
I wonder where I would be without the church.
I can’t imagine what it would have been like to grow up without the knowledge of a loving God.
I have no idea what would have happened to me—what direction I would have ended up going in if I had not been surrounded, from a young age, people who were striving to love like Jesus.
I got my first taste of Jesus’ love through His Church.
Church was central in our lives.
We went to church picnics, had our pastors and their families over for dinner, participated in Vacation Bible School, and were in the church building every single Sunday.
Even if we were on vacation, we went to a Church wherever we happened to be.
And as I grew into a middle school kid and a high schooler, I came to identify the church as a place where I was loved unconditionally.
And outside my family, I suppose that was the only place where I felt that way.
Because, let’s face it, life is hard.
And people can be mean.
And children can be VERY MEAN to one another.
How do kids make it through childhood without a loving church family—without an unwavering faith in a loving God?
I can’t imagine, and yet, it is becoming more and more the norm.
Statistics tell us that less than 20 percent of the folks living in the houses that surround this building are in church right now.
That includes countless young families with children.
What are we going to do about it?
What can we do about it?
What is God calling us to do about it?
There can be no doubt that children hold a special place in Jesus’ ministry.
Their presence across the Gospels shows us that Jesus interacted with them, healed them, fed them, blessed them and welcomed them in a world which was usually reserved for “adults only.”
The little children in our Gospel lesson for this morning are probably under the age of seven.
And perhaps because they weren’t yet productive members of the family nor of society, little children were often invisible or ignored by adults.
And when the disciples try and block them off from Jesus, they are doing what they think is right.
It’s what society has told them to do.
In other words, the disciples represent those who see children as a waste of time or a distraction.
They have bigger fish to fry.
They have an agenda for Jesus: He is their king-to-be and wasting time by blessing children and taking them into His arms does not rank high on their list of important things for Jesus to be doing.
And so, the disciples assume that it’s their job to keep the children away from Jesus.
But instead of being a help to Jesus and His ministry, the disciples are the problem.
“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant…”
…in other words, He was really, really mad…
“He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’”
Do not hinder them.
Do not stop them.
Do not put a “stumbling block in their way.”
I mean, this is important stuff.
Back in Mark Chapter 9 Jesus says: “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me…”
And then in verse 42 the rubber meets the road when Jesus reiterates: “If anyone causes one of these little ones…to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”
Do we ever cause “one of one of these little ones to stumble”?