God has open arms for all
“People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belong to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”
– St. Mark 10:2-16
Sometimes I get the impression that the Christian church is shooting itself in the foot. Many congregations do not have a tolerance for children in the service or the congregation.
I know of a congregation that chased the children out simply because they were children. That church marked itself for eventual death.
The future of any group or body, be it a nation or the church, lies in the children. Children perpetuate survival and longevity.
Nevertheless, many churches do not cultivate relationships with children. Unlike yesteryears when older members of the church encouraged children to be a part of the congregation, today, many senior members discourage their involvement and attendance.
As we look around the churches, we notice that the membership is getting older. Regrettably, the children’s population is shrinking also.
We are told, in the above test, that Jesus was having a conversation with his disciples. He was explaining the ramifications of divorce to them. Simultaneously, they were interrupted by mothers, who were trying to get their children to see Jesus. The disciples considered this rude.
Consequently, they were somewhat abrupt in dealing with these mothers. They were quite angry that the mothers were disturbing them for some “snotty nose children.” That is the way many church people feel about children.
However, that belief does not represent Jesus’ feelings about those children or children in general. He wants children to be part of the church body. In fact, Jesus saw in those children the miracle of reconciliation that the disciples and we ourselves need to see and experience.
When he saw the way the disciples were handling the mothers he became indignant. He chided the disciples saying, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Then with compassion he said to the disciples, the children and their mothers “…for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”
“. . . for the kingdom of God belongs to such as God our Father has open arms for all, particularly children.” Jesus reminds us that, “anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Our faith in God is compared to that of a child.
The Father receives us all as little children. We can always run into his open and waiting arms and receive his recreating love with no questions asked. He hugs us into health and wholeness, simply because he is our Father, and we are his created children.
This is the glorious grace of reconciliation. This is what the arms of Christ stretched on the cross really means. God was in Christ hugging the world to himself, hugging you and me through those arms in a love that will never let go, because we are his children.
Once we know the miracle of forgiveness, once we have experienced the grace of being reconciled to God and begin to live our lives in those everlasting arms, then we are empowered to reach across the distance in our own relationships and be reconciled to one another. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas, or telephone: 323-4107; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.
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