In today's world, we are bringing our children to Jesus spiritually. In the Bible, people brought their children to Jesus literally and physically.
And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
I wonder how it looked to Jesus when he saw the people bringing Him their children? Can you imagine His smile seeing them from a distance as they approached? The joy of seeing these adults desiring their children to be near Him coupled with the sight of the smiling beautiful children in parents' arms and being led by the hand. Can you imagine His joy?
Even though Jesus is no long on earth, He can still experience that same joy watching us as we bring our children to Him spiritually, true?
What you have to wonder when it comes to the church these days and the advice we've all been given on "how" to bring our children to Jesus...what does He see as we do this?
Let's imagine together...
Jesus looks up and sees a couple as they head toward Him with their child in tow...the child gets distracted and sees a bug on a stalk of grass by the side of the road. The parents stop and scold him and jerk him by the arm and growl at him, "Stop that! We're going to see Jesus NOW!" "But, Moooom!" the boy cries out.
"Stop it!" Mom scowls and continues to pull on her son's arm squeezing it to give him a slight warning.
When they reach Jesus the little boy hesitates shyly and the mom pushes him toward Jesus, "Go on no. Stop being scared. Just go!"
Finally, like a mother determined to get a scared child's picture with Santa, she picks up her son and plops him, squirming and crying, on Jesus' lap, "There!"
Jesus looks up and sees a couple as they head toward Him with their child in tow...and the child clearly is not interested in coming. The child is about two and is tired, needing a nap, and therefore cranky and is just refusing to cooperate and just plops himself down on the ground with a thud.
The father stands by awkwardly not knowing what to do and pulls out his cell phone to check the latest stock report. The mother looks at another lady passing by and shrugs angrily, "The terrible twos! What can you do?" The lady hands her a book by a person trained in bringing children to Jesus.
The mother opens the book and pulls out a wooden spoon tucked into the back cover and begins to whack the child on the bottom. The child cries. The mother firmly restates her command, "Stand up. Start moving. Let's go!" But, the child is two and tired and has no idea why Mom even wants him to do this and says, "Noooo! I don't waaant tooo!" and his lower lip juts out.
Seeing his disobedience preventing him from being brought to Jesus, the mother bends him over her knee again and hits him several times on his diapered bottom. The book says she must not let the child win the battle and she will not lose this battle or the war. It's too important!
Now, the child is crying very loudly, face bright red and oozing snot and tears, but he's a smart little boy with a strong sense of himself and still says, "No!" to his mother when she says, "Let's go!" So, again, she administers several hard whacks to his bottom with that wooden spoon. "Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack!"
This process continues several more times until the mother starts to feel exhausted by it. His will finally broken, the child, gasping of air and almost hyperventilating finally complies and begins to walk with his mother toward Jesus.
When the family finally reaches Jesus, the mother stands there proudly, "I won the battle and the war! Here he is Jesus!" The child stands there somewhat confused and ashamed with his bottom throbbing. He is more tired than ever and wants to sit down but now it would hurt to sit. He looks up into the face of Jesus and wonders why it is that his parents beat him to bring him to this person and what does this Person think of what his mom did?
Jesus looks up and sees a couple as they head toward Him with their teenage daughter in tow...thumbs flying away on her cell phone. (Her parents can't read it but she's texting her bff, "LOL my parents are making me go see this Jesus dude! I know right!?") Her parents, seeing her distracted by her phone scold her and take her phone from her.
"What? Give me back my phone!"
"No! You're not getting this back until you go see Jesus!"
The daughter rolls her eyes, clearly not lol-ing anymore...crosses her arms...and walks toward Jesus. Let's get this over with!
Jesus looks up and sees a couple as they head toward Him with their teenage boy in tow...and he is mad. Mad mad mad. Mad at his parents. Mad at the world. His parents say between clenched teeth, "Look, here, young man! You will come to see Jesus right now or else you're grounded, is that clear!?"
Jesus looks up and sees a couple as they head toward Him with their child in tow...and hears the parents say, "Yes! You come here and see Jesus and we'll give you a toy!"
Jesus looks up and sees a couple as they head toward Him...but their child is not with them. They approach Him and hand Him a star-chart that's all filled out, nicely.
"He got all gold stars this week!"
"Yes, but, where is he?"
"Well, he's home working on more chores for the chart!"
Jesus looks up and sees a couple as they head toward Him with their child in tow...and hears the parents says, "Look! I know you can't stand this but if you do this, Jesus will give you a prize! You want the prize don't you? You only have to do this once and you get the prize, OK, honey?"
Jesus looks up and sees a couple as they head toward Him with their child in tow...and the child looks up at her parents and asks, "Why are we going to see Jesus?" The parents respond, "Because, if we don't He will kill us...forever...in hell, honey! Because He is love!"
Once they reach Jesus they shove the child forward and prod him, "Now, remember what we taught you to say...go on!"
The child clears his throat, "I am lost without you and I need you to save me."
Jesus looks up and sees a couple as they head toward Him with their child in tow...They are visibly working on memorizing something as they approach and are very busily instructing the child who keeps shaking his head in agreement every so often. They reach Jesus and urge the child forward, "Go on! Say it! Say it!"
The child hesitates, "But, but, I don't know what I did?"
"Just say it!" the mom yells.
"Apologize!" the dad yells.
"Tell him you're SORRY!" the mother whispers harshly.
The child looks at Jesus and not having a clue why says, "I'm sorry Jesus, forgive me."
Jesus looks up and sees a couple as they head toward Him with their child in tow...The child is crying and calling out to the parents and the parents are ignoring the child. The mother looks a little more disturbed about it than the dad who assures the mom, "We're teaching her how to find Jesus on her own, honey. It's OK. we're teaching her independence...you'll see..."
Jesus looks up and sees a couple fighting like cats and dogs as they head toward Him with their child in tow...When they reach Jesus, they just give the child a shove toward Jesus and continue focused on fighting with each other.
Jesus looks up and sees a couple as they head toward Him with their child in tow...and the child looks up and asks, "Who is this Jesus guy ANYWAY and why do I have to go see Him?"
The parents both look horrified and immediately shush her, and scold her very harshly, "Don't you ever ask a question like that again, young lady!"
"You just do as you're told, do you understand?"
Understanding only that questioning her parents gets her in trouble...the girl does as her parents tell her...
Do you think Jesus...would find any of these scenes particularly joyful?
How about this?
Jesus looks up and sees a couple as they head toward Him with their child in tow...The parents are both focused on the journey and walking purposefully toward Him yet with their eye on their child. The child is following the parents, sometimes running, and sometimes stopping to look at a stray rock.
"Look, mom! Look at that grasshopper!"
"I know! Cool, isn't it, honey? Let's keep going!"
"Where are we going, Daddy?"
"To go see Jesus."
"He's the one who made that grasshopper."
Child stops. Eyes widen. "Wow! He's cool!"
"Yes, He is..."
"Did He make the sky, too?"
"Yes, He did!"
"And, how about my crayons? Did He make my crayons?"
As the parents keep moving toward Jesus, the child continues asking questions and looking in awe at the world around him. With each question, "How do we KNOW that Jesus is love, Mommy?" the boy becomes more and more enthused to meet this Jesus.
But, then, the boy sees a squirrel and chases it if far far off the path where he falls and scrapes his knees and bangs his head on a tree limb. The parents follow the boy, fix his booboos and remind him of their journey and where they are headed. After the detour, they return to their path and continue heading toward Jesus...
Look at all the things you do with your child today to lead them toward Jesus. Are you leading with your child willingly following? Or, are you behind your child "with a bull whip" forcing them to march toward Jesus?
Look at the advice in your favorite parenting book. Is it all about leading or about driving and forcing your child to come with you?
Think about what Jesus sees as you are bringing your child to Him...What does the mirror tell you?
It's never too late to change...