When Our Children Reflect the Gospel
We see His splendid works in their pudgy hands and vibrant eyes. We hear His joy in their playful laughter. We observe His care as our young ones contentedly eat their PB&J’s and macaroni & cheese; smacking and savoring every bite. God loves children.
God loves children and He uses them to teach the older and the aged the very life lessons we try so hard to teach the young.
Is it any wonder that Jesus reprimanded the disciples after they dismissed mothers and children?
“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. (Mark 10:14-16 NLT)
Children preach the gospel in their child-like faith, their fervency of forgiveness, and their need for reconciliation following discipline.
Children have faith in their parents. Even in the face of fearful first attempts: riding a bicycle, jumping off a diving board, or entering a new class; children pilgrim on because they have faith their parents will lead them in safety. Children trust because the love they receive, or sadly do without, leads them to believe that Someone much bigger than they – God – created the world and loves them very much.
How the novelty of Christ must have drawn the children to Him. His gentle touch, gracious tones, and fierce, but knowing gaze, must have intrigued the minds of little ones and lead them to seek Him in all His new and glorious ways. How does He make the blind man see, the man’s legs work (lame walk),and the deaf hear? Certainly He is someone special!
Isn’t that why adults continue to be drawn to the carpenter turned priest from Galilee? The One who knows everything about us, yet still wants the firsthand account of our days communicated to Him in prayer. The One who can heal our illness, but longs to redeem our spirits is also the One who sees our outer forms, but looks instead to our hearts. He loves us in spite of our weaknesses toward temptation and because His grace and glory are on the line.
The faith children have to try the impossible and novel, to dream big dreams, and to trust when afraid; this faith is the salvation conviction of what is yet unseen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Quick to Forgive:
Children forgive each other so that they also may be forgiven. God’s word makes it clear that if we desire forgiveness for our sins, we must first forgive those who have sinned against us. Jesus, when speaking to the multitude at the Sermon on the Mount, preached:
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15 NLT)
Even as Jesus suffered His agonizing death for the forgiveness of our sins He prayed:
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34 ESV)
Our children, like Jesus, know that in order for an incident to be over forgiveness must be given. (John 18:28-30) As soon as this qualification is met they run along and play. They move on quickly! Conversely, we, as adults, may ask forgiveness, by saying “I’m sorry,” and all the while we are still fuming inside, nursing our offense. We might rehearse exactly what we wished we had said or will say the next time. Kids are different.
Why is it that children forgive offenses and forget so quickly?
When a child is told they are forgiven they believe it. Children are literal; they accept our forgiveness and move on.
The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression (Numbers 14:18 ESV)
Our children desire to know that everything is okay after they are disciplined. Often my little boy will say, “You mad at me mommy or you nice to me?” He is truly communicating, “Is there still a problem between us or have we reconciled?”
“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. (Matthew 5:23-24 ESV)
Our children long for the love and affection of their mother’s and father’s embrace following discipline. They are quick to reconcile the most important earthly relationship they know.
Similarly, God, in mercy, longs for the reconciliation between His fallen creatures and Himself. So much so that He sent His only begotten Son to die and ensure the Way. Prior to the new covenant of Jesus, God laid out laws and sacrificial practices for His people to follow to provide the initial covenant for the forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 10).
God longs for the reconciliation of our relationship with Him every time we sin. Though we, like Adam and Eve, want to run from God the further we sink into sin, God would have us run to Him embracing us as the prodigals we are.
Children express a keen desire for immediate reconciliation mirroring the heart of the gospel.
We indeed see the forgiveness of the Father mirrored in our relationships with our children. However, while our children embody the faith that it takes to believe on Christ Jesus, they are sinful in their hearts from birth:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)
For I was born a sinner--yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5 NLT)
It is our job as parents and ambassadors of Christ to learn the faith lessons of our children and use those as teachable moments to preach the gospel to them. How beautiful and magnificent the plans of our Creator that He would intertwine the relationships of parent and child into the Trinity and the red thread of the gospel itself.
“Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18: 2-3 ESV)
Brooke Cooney is a pastor's wife, mother of two, and foster-mom of one. To capture the eternal in the everyday, she blogs about family, faith, and lessons along the journey at ThisTemporaryHome.com.