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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Blessing the Children

Matthew 18:5 (ESV) 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,

New Testament parents loved their children as much as parents do today. Yet, children had no status. They were essentially the parents' property which could be done with any way the parents pleased. Jesus elevated their status.

Jesus told those listening (which includes us) that we have a responsibility for these children beyond ensuring that they make adulthood. The phrase "in my name" has two possible meanings. It can mean "for the sake of" or "to bring a blessing to." I choose to believe that it means both.

We should embrace children for the sake of Christ. It will mean that we do so as if we are embracing Him. It will mean that we will bring them to Him. It will mean that we will sacrifice for them and thus for Him. It will mean that we will give them status as if He were with us. We will listen to them even though they may not give us great wisdom. We will care for them. We will give them value and in doing so we have given Him value in our lives.

We should bring blessings to the children. The greatest blessing anyone can share with a child is faith in Christ as savior. This means more than patting them on the heads as they come to church. It means giving so that teachers will have literature and visuals which will help the children hear the story of Christ. It means providing a place to learn and to worship the Lord. It means being a teacher of these children. It means sharing with them the true joy of Christmas rather than only telling them of Santa Claus.

Children are important in the kingdom of God. Our own relationship with Jesus is affected by how we treat children. I believe I can say that I have rejected Him if I have rejected children.

Bless a child today. Receive them in Jesus' name.


Anonymous said...

There are 20 families who wish they could embrace a little child today, but that child is not. My heart is broken for them.

Really, I've been a mess since Friday night, when I first heard of the shootings. It may be because at the exact time those little children were being terrorized and killed, I was sitting in an auditorium watching my own little grand-daughters )5 & 8 years old) sing in their Christmas program. Whatever the underlying reason, those children have been continually on my mind.

As I've wept and prayed for the families, I have also determined that I will not walk so swiftly past the children along my path. I need to do more to show them that they are valued and loved.

As usual, this post came alongside my thoughts nicely.


Anonymous said...

I don't mean to be insensitive especially this entry is made so soon after the preceding entry on the loss of 20 children to senseless craziness. Ps Prentis is using this text to exhort us all to care for the children in our midst. Indeed, we must.  It has long been so, and a simple reminder of such a disposition must be in us all, is that, in our confrontations, including wars, we must avoid directly hitting the children.  It is indeed senseless to attack and kill children who are lowly, without their own defense or ability to fight back, and who are at the mercy of those who can strike.

Although it is not absolutely incorrect to read the text literally to focus on children, the intent of the text or scripture passage was on the adults, using the children's condition as the point of reference. In verse 1 of Matt 18, the disciples asked the Lord who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.  In answering this question, Jesus made reference to a child's condition, saying 3 important things.  Before I say what the 3 things are, that condition, of a child, was referring, in part, to the lowliness of a child.  Just as in the case of Jesus telling Nicodemus (John 3) about being born-again is not saying one is to go back in time, be born again from the mother's womb, here it is also not about one going back and be a child, literally, but is to say that we need to be transformed of our heart and mindset to that which is LIKE THAT OF A CHILD. Logically, of course, we can say that since an adult with a child's disposition is desired, a child is likewise, desired. Still, the intent of passage was focussed on the adults.

The 3 important things: 1. Unless we be like a lowly child, we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven; 2. The lowly ones would be the greatest ones in the Kingdom of Heaven; and 3. When we receive one who is with a child's lowliness, we are receiving the Lord.

A little expansion on the 3 things above, may be in order: 
Now, we can include other attributes of a child, in holding out that unless we are like a child we are not going to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but a key attribute implied was lowliness or humility, or deferring to another or embracing guardianship. Unless we liken ourselves to a child, and God is our Father or Guardian, we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  

Scripture exhorts servanthood-leadership, and, it is not strange that Jesus stressed that lowly ones would be the great people in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

On the 3rd point or verse 5 of Matt 18, when we receive in or accept a lowly one, we are receiving Jesus, because Jesus Himself epitomized such lowliness of a child. Think about it, was it not Jesus was like a lowly child, and Scripture put it in another manner by saying He is lamb to be slaughtered. Jesus always insisted that He was doing what His Father wanted done, even when that would made Him vulnerable, and could not strike back.  So, when we receive, and we are to, one who is lowly or humble, we are receiving one who is abiding in the Lord who had epitomized that lowliness. When we receive one who is abiding in the Lord, we are receiving the Lord. 

But why does the verse included "in My name"? When we think of why we say, "Be healed in the name of Jesus", we will appreciate that it is by the power of God that we are so transformed as to want to receive a lowly one, or be able to heal another. Of ourselves, we will find it difficult, if not impossible, to receive or welcome the lowly ones, just as it is not likely that we are able to heal, without invoking the name of Jesus. When we recognize that it is indeed as Scripture put it, "Apart from Me, you can do nothing", that is when we will, say, pray and do, in the name of the Lord or Jesus.

Bless the children, and bless too, the lowly or humble ones.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions