Why was the Lord Jesus so positive about ‘little’, preschool children? ‘The kingdom of God belongs to such as these,’ He said, ‘anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ (Read Mark 10 vs 13-16) Why are toddlers so important to the King of Kings?
Today’s readings give me the opportunity to repeat a favourite story of mine. It happened many years ago when I was a student in Belfast. One day walking home from the bus stop I came across two young children beside some metal railings. The older one was about nine or ten and was trying to persuade the younger one who was three or four to come home. It seemed the little one had run off in a temper and got herself lost beside this busy road. Clearly terrified, she was clinging onto the railings with both hands and refusing to budge!
Now I was only around 19 or twenty myself, with no younger siblings and little experience with young children. I didn’t know these children, it was none of my business but something made me stop to see if I could help. Sitting down beside them I started to chat away and eventually the little one turned around and dried her eyes so I said, ‘Let’s go and find Mummy.’ I reasoned their house couldn’t be far away, the older one would guide us, so we set off, me on the outside, the older girl on the inside and the little one in the middle. And that’s when it happened.
As we walked along I felt a small hand take mine.
This little child had never met me before. She didn’t have the vocabulary to express faith but that little hand was saying it all. In her heart she had decided I was a safe bet, someone she could trust. Within a few moments they were home safe. I never saw them again but I’ve always been grateful for the opportunity to help that day and the wonderful illustration it gave me of childlike faith, the kind of faith that Jesus values so highly.
With this picture in mind let me suggest three things about Christian faith and the first is a Christian is someone who trusts in a Saviour. This little child now felt safe. She had made some bad decisions and got herself lost and vulnerable in a world way too big and scary for her to face never mind fix. She needed help. She needed rescued.
The Bible says we have all sinned and turned away from God. Some of our choices have led us into disobedience and trouble. We stand guilty before a holy God, inviting His holy anger and punishment rather than blessing.
But He still loves us and sent His Son to rescue us. God’s Word teaches that those who admit we’re lost and need rescuing and trust in Jesus are forgiven and ‘saved’.
The second thing to consider here is that a Christian is willing to be guided. A little child often needs led carefully in ways that are safe and good. ‘This way darling, no, not that way, this way!’ Sometimes parents have to exert gentle but firm pressure!
The question for us as adults is whether we are willing to be led by Jesus? He sends the Holy Spirit to live in and among His followers to lead us in paths of truth and righteousness. His ways will sometimes lead us contrary to the fashions of this world. Are we up for this challenge? Are we prepared to follow Jesus even if our friends are going a different direction?
It’s not really an option. Jesus said if we love Him we will obey His commands. The evidence that our faith is real is our desire to obey and honour our Saviour.
Here’s a third thought about faith. Trusting in Jesus Christ as Son of God and Saviour means we’re on our way home. This little child still had much to learn
about the world but she wasn’t worried. She was saved, was being guided and protected and was going home. That’s all that mattered. She was content.
As we grow up and go through life there are many opportunities to be enjoyed but also many challenges to be faced, obstacles to be overcome, heartaches to be endured. It’s certainly not all easy in the short term!
But Christians are given to know the end of the story and it’s safe in God’s good hands. One day the Lord Jesus will return in glory and God will make all things new. There will be no more sin or evil, no more war or greed, or death or sorrow or pain. Those who have trusted and followed Jesus in this present, imperfect age will live with Him in heavenly peace. Even now He is preparing for us an eternal home in the Father’s house.
Our reward is waiting, our calling for now is to be faithful to the One Who has rescued us.
It didn’t cost me much that day to help those children, just a few minutes of my time. But it cost Jesus everything on the day they nailed Him to that cross outside Jerusalem. He endured that cross out of love for us. Risen and glorified today, He invites us to put our trust in Him like little children.
Christians are grateful people who have trusted Him for salvation, are following and obeying Him through life and living in anticipation of one day being at home with Him in Heaven.