Children are one of God’s most precious gifts. At the same time, they are one of God’s cruelest. Why is it the cherub in our midst loves more, gives more and forgives more . . . and what is it about a child’s spot-on question regarding our actions that halts us dead in our tracks? Or worse yet . . . why does their mimicking of us make our heart stop? It is because in their innocent words and actions we are condemned.
In spiritual things, it is the same. When a child says he loves God, it is complete. When a child prays, her prayers are genuine and real. When a child gives, he gives without regard to consequence. When a child asks a question, an answer is expected. When a child reads the sacred scriptures, she reads as if it is a letter from a beloved one is being read. And when they come to church, children expect something to happen.
One can play devil’s advocate here and suggest a child’s totally sold out approach to a relationship with God is possible because of innocence . . . and lack of awareness of evil in the world. Yet, I have never met a child who is unaware of evil in the world, maybe not full extent of the horrors of evil we know exists, but to a child evil is still evil [just ask any parent who has comforted their child from the monsters under the bed or the bully at school].
So, here’s my thought . . . if the questions and actions of children convict us, why don’t we change? If children are completely sold out in their relationship with God, loving God completely, praying with a real and genuine heart, giving without regard to consequence, asking questions, reading the sacred text as if it were from a beloved and coming to church expecting something to happen, should we not be following their lead? “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18: 17-NRSV)
Katrina and Tony Brooks are pastors of North Broad Baptist Church, Rome, Georgia.