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Become as little children
by Jack Wellman
2009-11-14 11:01:38
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Children are a gift of God, no doubt. Children take things literally. In this article, you will read of two true stories that show we must exercise great care in how we share the Gospel with young children. And for adults, unless we come to Christ as a child, none of us will likewise see the Kingdom of God.
Once, when a parent I know had company come over, a young child of five came into the living room and told the lady who was visiting, that “Momma was right…you like to talk about yourself… a lot!”. Ouch! Oh well, out of the mouth of babes they say. Are children are brutally honest? No, I would say refreshingly honest. I am a Sunday School teacher of 3rd & 4th grade children and this is the age when many accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This is a precious window of opportunity where many children come to accept Jesus and I know that this prime time of their lives is perhaps the best opportunity for me to tell the message of the Gospel. And this is a serious consideration for parents (and anyone for that matter) that they must watch carefully what they say around or to children.
One of my favorite verses is, “And He called a little child to Himself and put him in the midst of them, And said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all]. Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving] is greatest in the kingdom of heaven‘ ” (Matt. 18:2-4). But there is more to sharing Christ with children than you think. In fact, I know of two true stories that make me want to be very careful in what words I use to share Jesus Christ and have children come to Jesus as their Savior.
One true story shocked me when I heard it and I will never forget it. A young child came to ask his mother how he can go to heaven. The child understood that his mother was already saved and that she was going to heaven some day, because she had already accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. The child also wanted to go to heaven, so he asked his mother how he could go to heaven someday too. The mother said that “You must let Jesus come into your heart to live, and He will be in your heart forever”. Moments later, the child went into the kitchen and when the mother heard the silverware drawer open, she was curious what the child was up to. She nearly fainted when she saw the young boy with a knife in his hand, pointed to his chest. She rushed to the boy and grabbed the knife and asked him, what are you doing with a knife!? The young boy said, I was going to make room for Jesus in my heart to let Him in. The boy thought he had to literally cut his heart open to allow Jesus’ room to come into it.
This story burned deep into my memory that the way in which we share the Gospel and ask children if they want to accept Jesus as their Savior must be in very specific, precise language. For the child, he was only doing what he thought he must do to make room for Jesus in his heart and thought, Jesus must find an opening to be able to get into it.
One touching story of another young boy which shows the trusting faith and love that is unconditional in children was when his older sister was going to die if she didn’t receive a blood transfusion. Her blood type was extremely rare. Not even her parents had the same blood type. But the boy did, so his father asked him if he could give his blood to his sister to save her life. The boy thought for just a few seconds…then, said yes. When the boy was lying down next to his sister and seeing his blood being removed to a machine that transferred it into his sisters bloodstream, he told his parents, “Will I see you in heaven?” The father said, “Yes, some day son.”. But the boy thought, “Pretty soon huh?” His father said, “Son you’re not going to die for a while. You‘re still young“. The boy then said, “I thought you died when your blood is gone”. That father then realized that his son thought he was going to give her all of his blood so she could live, but he would have to die. Yes, said his father. Then my blood will be gone and I won’t have anymore. The parents both began to cry and hugged the boy, suddenly realizing their son was willing to die to ensure his sister would live. They told him that they would not take all of his blood, only some of it…and he wouldn’t die.
How precious is the unconditional love of children. They also have child-like faith and trust in obedience (no, not perfectly, but who does!?) to his parents, since the boys parents asked him and he only took a few moments to decide to, what he thought, was give his life for his sister. That love is close to Jesus’ unconditional love for us. He desires that all people saved and go to heaven and so that is why He died…for us.
My point is that we must come to Jesus in humble obedience, in trust, and have faith in Him. And the way in which we share the Gospel with children must not include physical, tangible activities that necessitate accepting Jesus as their Savior. It only takes faith and trust, child-like trust in the only One Who can save. It is letting the children come to Jesus and He does the saving. The child (and any adult) only has to accept the Lord and they will be saved (Acts 16:30-31). And the child should know that once they are saved, they can rest assured that Jesus will come for them someday (John 10:8-29). He never breaks His promise. They don’t have to do anything, but simply believe in Him…and they will be saved. I hope you will too. And come to Him as a little child would. In complete trust, faith and full assurance. That is my prayer for you


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Emanuel Paparella2009-11-14 12:37:28
Insightful reflections, Jack. Indeed, children do not make sense of reality not logic and reason but with imagination, hence they do not grasp irony. If they were to be born grasping irony we would have a world full of cynics mistrusting each other, which is pretty much what the adult world looks like presently. Thank God for children who give us a better example. Those who recommend that we do not tell children fairy tales and myths and parables because they are “lies” are misguided. Those lies have a truth of their own which may very well be more viable and more important than our utilitarian scientific truth. One of those truths, as you well point out, is that it is more important to keep an open heart than to keep an open mind. Many of those open minded politically correct positions turn out to be pretty biased positions on closer inspection, for it is not enough to scatter the seed; the soil has to be good too.

Emanuel Paparella2009-11-14 15:08:21
Errata: with logic and reason.

Emanuel Paparella2009-11-14 15:42:45
P.S.I have a year and a half granddaughter whom I see almost daily. In more ways than one she has become my teacher about the continuity of life and complete presence to the now; for her complete openness to the reality as it is, with no abstract transcendent truths based on mere logic and rationality; in her I see only intuitive imagination and the poetic. She is a daily reminder to me that to lose touch with the child in us spells disaster in the mature adult. I do not need Vico to transpose all that to our present cynical rationalistic civilization, for I see it exemplified daily in my granddaughter. Her name is Sophia, which is also very appropriate.

Jack2009-11-14 23:32:23

With the name Sophia, which I agree is quite appropriate, this seems to reinforce the principle purpose behind this article. Thank you for your uplifting & enlightening comments my friend. I think it keeps us quite young with the heart of the young & the young at heart. It's too bad we have to become more cynical as adults. It seems oxy moronic that we are said to "grow up" when this is really growing old.

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