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A Child In Our Midst

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TITLE:  A Child in Our Midst          SCRIPTURE:  Mark 10:2-16

People were bringing little children to (Jesus) that he might touch them.

Not much exciting happened in little villages, but Jesus was exciting.  Wherever he went, crowds gathered.  Jesus was a great teacher, and there was no telling what might happen if he were to touch a child.  They had heard stories about his touch--how he healed people and drove out demons with a touch of his hand.  Could he touch their children and make them great?  Possibly!  And so the fathers and mothers brought the children so that Jesus might touch them.

The touch of a hand has so much power.  We tend to be afraid of touching people or being touched.  But a touch can bless!

I remember a friend who looked a bit frazzled.  He said, "My daughter just told me that she is getting married."  He went on to say that the groom was a wonderful young man--the daughter was old enough to marry -- but her announcement had stunned him.

I said, "For whatever part of you that is rejoicing, I rejoice with you," and took his hand.  Then I said, "For whatever part of you is stunned, bless you."  As I said, "Bless you," I touched his forehead.  It was almost as if I had installed a tap and had drawn off a quart of tension.  He visibly relaxed and said, "Do that again," so I touched his forehead again.

Fathers and mothers brought their children to Jesus, that he might touch them -- that whatever power belonged to Jesus might also belong to their children.  But the disciples were having none of it.  These were busy days.  People were coming to Jesus faster than he could deal with them. Someone had to protect Jesus, so the disciples became the Palace Guard.

Sometimes the disciples weren't sure who to admit and who to keep away.  A distraught man brought his son to Jesus, and the son had a terrible convulsion right there.  Jesus healed the boy.  Clearly, it had been right to let that father see Jesus.

The Pharisees, of course, had to be admitted.  They were important men -- movers and shakers.  They needed to see Jesus.

But these were ordinary parents and ordinary children.  The disciples said, "Go away!  Leave the Master alone."  But Jesus stopped them.

Let the little children come to me;

do not stop them;

for it is to such as these

that the kingdom of God belongs.

Jesus took the children  in his arms and blessed them.


Let the little children come to me;

do not stop them.


It seems remarkable that anyone would stop children from going to Jesus.  How could the disciples turn away children.  But children can be pesky, so perhaps we can understand.

Jesus settled the issue.  He rebuked the disciples and invited the children.  Surely that ended the question about where children belonged.  Surely nobody would stop the children from going to Jesus now.

But still today -- people stop children from seeing Jesus.  Some, of course, are hostile to religion, but those are few.  Far more parents hinder their children by having no spiritual values themselves.  Children see, more clearly than we would like, what we really believe.

Our children tend to value what we value.  Our children tend to consider important what we consider important.  When we reflect God in our lives, our children will see that.  If we never darken the door of the church, our children sees that.  The statements of our lives are far more powerful than the statements of our lips.

It doesn't always work.  Some children turn out well in spite of bad parents, and some children turn out badly in spite of good parents.  But the best sermon we can preach to our children is the sermon that we live.

Sometimes we are reluctant to influence our children's beliefs.  We hate to see religious values forced on anyone, and we don't want to force our religious values on our children.  Some parents say, "When they grow up, they can make up their own minds."

Perhaps that comes from our Constitution -- or a misunderstanding of our Constitution.  The First Amendment says,

Congress shall make no laws regarding the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Sometimes, we act as if that law prohibited everyone -- even parents -- from disseminating religious values.  But it doesn't.  It applies to Congress -- not to parents!  We are free to influence our children however we want.

And we do try to influence our children in those things which we consider important.

- We insist that they attend school, because school is important.

- We try to get them to eat vegetables, because nutrition is important.

- We discourage them from using drugs, because that is important.

If it is important, we try to influence our children.  We may coerce or coax, but we try.  If we don't try to influence their religious beliefs, we have said to them that God isn't important.

And, of course, we influence them without even trying.  They see what we do, which is the most powerful sermon of all.

The book of Proverbs says,

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Jesus says,

Let the little children come to me;

do not stop them;

for it is to such as these

that the kingdom of God belongs.

The days pass quickly.  By the time our children are fourteen or fifteen, our opportunity is almost gone.

- Every day that passes, we have less influence, and our children's friends have more.

- Every day that passes, we are less able to protect our children from danger.

Let us use the time that we have, so that when our children leave we can say, "May God bless you!  Go with God!"

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