We love this passage, don’t we? It makes us feel really good. But are we really willing to embrace what Jesus is saying here? Do our actions, our policies, our polity, our structures, our strategies and our systems really reflect the Kingdom of God belonging to little children? Jesus says, “let the little children come to me; do not stop them”. Some translations will read “do not hinder them”.
These three verses should give us great pause. The disciples were hindering, were getting in the way of, were preventing little children from coming into Jesus’ presence, and Jesus calls to them to stop and says that we will never enter God’s kingdom until we learn to do it like a child does.
Do we ever really wonder how we, the Church (that is, Christ’s disciples) still today prevent children from coming into Jesus’ presence. We certainly value children today to a higher degree than they did in Jesus’ day, but might we still have a long way to go? When a child gets squirrelly in worship our initial reaction is “that child is distracting me from worshiping”. Or to put it another way, “that child is hindering me from coming into Jesus’ presence”. Do we ever think that the squirrelly child might be squirrelly because we are hindering him or her from coming to Jesus? And, based on what we read here, with whom would Jesus side?
This passage is obviously talking about bigger and deeper things than squirrelly children in worship, but I believe he is also not not talking about that. As followers of Jesus, may we never stop wondering about such things, and may we be willing to do whatever it takes to make sure our children have a clear path to Jesus.
Right now in a our church we are putting on a musical called “Whistle Down the Wind”, and one of its core themes is just this. In an almost parabolic way, it reveals to us the ways in which kids “get it” and in which grown ups like me often miss it. I highly encourage you to come and see this show, because it very poignantly and beautifully calls this theme out. It’s one that should haunt us a bit, confuse it, and cause us to wonder deeply. What does a community that actually receives the kingdom of God as a little child really look like?