Believe as if we were are children

This sermon was given on Sunday, September 4, 2016, after closing two days of the local fair concession which is an annual event for the church.  Whew!  I barely was able to get it done, but I always try to return to the mindset of the church during the hey day of the community which was nearly 50 years ago.  I appreciate your understanding as you read through this quickly written sermon.

 

Deuteronomy 4:9, NLT

“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.

 

Matthew 18:1-6, NLT

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf[a] is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

 

Matthew 19:13-15, NLT

13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” 15 And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

 

Mark 18:13-16, NLT

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. 14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

 

Reflection: Believe as if we were children!

 

What can we learn from God’s words about raising children?

  1. What does the scripture tell us about raising children?
  2. Why does Jesus tell the disciples to let the children come to him?
  3. How can we learn to be child-like in our faith?

 

What a weekend! The community is exhausted after all the hours of work to prepare for the annual event. Whether it was just making sure the yards are picked up and mowed or whether it was the hours in a kitchen preparing goodies for the concession or whether it was all the hours of planning, fund raising, setting up or manning an activity, the annual fair is an event worth the effort.

How does all this fit into our lives as Christians? Well, stop and consider the faces of those who attended the fair—not necessarily those working behind counters or on stage—and you can see the joy radiating in the faces. Certainly the smiles and the sparkling eyes of adults of all ages is evidence of the event. There is no lack of smiles and friendly greetings during the fair.

But, as much enjoyment witnessed in the faces of the adults, think about the faces of the kids. Total joy! Eyes sparkling and with out of control energy is proof of the fair’s success. Kids seem to have the purest form of joy and that is the very quality that God wants each of us to experience.

Why, then do adults have trouble finding that absolute sense of joy in their lives? The cynic might say life gets in the way, but God certainly did not create this glorious world for kids to grow up into the embittered adults. No, God created humans to enjoy all that he created. And what happened? Humans failed to follow the rules. Maybe we adults need to remember how to be children, especially children of God.

The answer is available in scripture. The concordance lists almost two full columns of verses using the term ’children’ and these verses include instructions on how to raise children as well as stories about children. Old Testament scriptures demonstrate how simple living a Christ-like, faith-based life whether in the words of instruction to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden or in the ten simple commandments Moses delivered.

Yet, the simple rules became complicated. This is the perfect weekend to stop and think about how we have allowed life to clutter up the simple commandment God gave us. As adults, we have failed to follow the Old Testament message in Deuteronomy 4:9:

“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.

 

Everything we do is learned. Our children are learning from everything we adults are doing. Stop for just a minute and think about what our young people learned this weekend. Did they learn Christ-like behaviors or did they learn the very behaviors that God does not want to see? Did the kids demonstrate Christ-like behaviors that we have passed on to them?

If we are honest, we know that our children are mirrors of us. If we stop and review our behaviors, we must realize we have not been teaching God’s law as successfully as we should. Kids learn more from watching how adults live than what adults say.

The absolute joy we witnessed in the faces of the kids—of all ages—should be the standard for our lives, not the exception of our lives. Drawing the kids to us this weekend has been easy. The carnival and all the fun shows how much fun the kids had during these few days in our community. If we draw the kids to God like Jesus did during his ministry, then Christ-like, Christ-centered kids can grow up to be the same as adults.

The New Testament scripture shares that Jesus welcomed the kids during his sermons and teaching moments. He even had to remind his own hand-picked disciples to let the children come as we read in Matthew:

13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” 15 And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

 

Jesus demonstrated the very methods we must use today. Call the children to us. Teach them the simple rule of treating others, as you want to be treated. Teaching them such a simple rule only works, though, if we model the same behavior because the earliest learning is by seeing rather than by listening or reading.

We must do our job as adults in order to assure that the joy in our children’s faces becomes the same joy in the faces of the adults who will replace us on this earth. With God’s grace and love, even we adults can experience that child-like joy in our own lives.

How do we adults who have experienced the difficulties and challenges of life return to the sense of joy we witness in our children’s faces during a fair weekend? The answer really is very simple—believe in God who called the children to him and blessed them. No one promises that returning to a child-like faith in God is easy, but the outcome is worth every effort.

We may see life as experienced adults right now, but we also have witnessed the joy of God’s love in our lives. This weekend we have welcomed home former community members, family members, and even strangers and newcomers to our community; and the fun has filled us up for another year of life challenges.

Life is a gift and the joy in living that life is centered in following Jesus. We are children of God, each and every last one of us, and as adults it is our job to teach the value of living a Christ-centered life out loud here in our own community. But remember, our children learn by watching and modeling the adults.

Christians have the responsibility to stay centered on God, so stay in fellowship with other Christians and remember Jesus’ words to the disciples and the adults trying to learn from the Master:

Matthew 19:13-15

13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” 15 And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

 

Take the joy of the fair weekend, forget the challenges to making sure the weekend celebration of community and remember the joy you have witnessed in the faces of the children. Living a Christ-centered life will take some work, but the joy will be evident in your own face as you find God’s grace and love for yourself. That joy will then be modeled for others and God’s power will transform our world.

Closing prayer:

Dear Loving Father,

Thank you for creating this glorious world for us.

Thank you for loving us so much

that you sent Jesus to change our lives.

Thank you, too, for equipping us

with the Holy Spirit so we can change lives, too.

Fill us up with love.

Fill us up with grace.

Fill us up with action.

As we try to transform our world,

Calling the children to you

Studying your word,

And feeding our community with you grace.

May we follow Jesus’ words from the gospel of Mark:

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. 14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

Amen, Father. Amen, Jesus Christ. Amen, Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Religion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s