Little Lessons (from Little Teachers) of Love
Several times in the gospels, Jesus says if we really want to know what it looks like to embody the life he calls us to live, we would do best to learn from the often overlooked little ones. Children in the ancient world weren’t fawned over as they are in our society. They were ignored. They fell into that “children should be seen, not heard” category. Jesus challenges that mindset saying they actually have much to teach us if we are willing to learn.
One time in Matthew 18, the disciples of Jesus are arguing over who is the greatest. (They seem to like to do this quite a bit). So Jesus calls a child into their midst and tells them if they really want to participate in the kingdom of heaven, then they need to change and become like children. “Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me (Mt. 18:4-5).”
In Mk. 10, people are bringing their children to Jesus because they want him to bless them. But the disciples start acting like bouncers, keeping the kids away (Sadly, that wouldn’t be the last time representatives of God become a self-appointed security detail keeping people from Jesus). “But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to 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. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it (Mk. 10:14-15).'”
Every year we offer a time for parents of little ones to publicly dedicate their children to God. At the same time, we, the church, also make a public proclamation of love and support for the children of our church. But we would be wise to do one more thing. Open our eyes and open our ears to learn from them. They have so much to teach about life, love, and God. After all, the kingdom belongs to such as these.