Do Not Hinder Them
As a parent, I’ve often been in discussions about whether or not it’s right to impose my beliefs on my children. For those that believe it is wrong to impose certain beliefs, such as religion on children, often their line of thinking is rather ironic. On one hand, they believe children are able to do incredible things like deciding what/when/how they should eat, and what is right and what is wrong, but on the other hand, they tend to fight many of their children’s battles in order to protect them from harm. In cases like this, whether consciously or subconsciously, I believe the parent is imposing his/her belief that their child is a vulnerable, inherently special being that must be protected. So really, the discussion is a thinly veiled argument against proselytizing your children rather than the morality of telling your children what to believe.
Personally, I love my daughter, but I know she is an inherently evil, selfish being, who believes the world revolves around her and will lead her life to ruin if left to her own volition. She’ll steal things out of other children’s hands if she wants it. She’ll cry when she doesn’t get her way. She’ll disobey requests and commands. To quote the Bible, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15). This is where you might say, “The rod of discipline?! Surely he can’t mean spanking? He must be talking about a time out.” No, it’s definitely spanking, but that’s another topic for another time.
The point of the matter is that my daughter needs Jesus, and my wife and I will be raising our children to know and love God, and to love others. As many adults could attest, having Christian parents doesn’t necessarily mean that they will end up as Christians. In fact, I’ve heard many testimonies that start out, “I grew up in the church but…” and sometimes they end w/ coming back to God, while others decided that the God they were force-fed either does not exist or is not worthy of affection or attention. So as a first time parent, the question of, “How do I help my daughter understand that God exists and that He loves,” is a matter of great concern. But the Bible seems to make it very, very simple.
13Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.14Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. Matt 19
13People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When 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 belongs to such as these. 15I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10
15People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18
Jesus clearly indicates that if we get out of the way, children will come to Christ. I’m sure the disciples had good reason to turn the children away, but Jesus clearly wants the children to come to Him. In fact, He not only lays hands on and blesses the children, but He also admonishes the disciples using the children as an example. For my wife and I, could the answer be as simple as bringing our daughter to Jesus and just getting out of the way? Can children really see God without the express help of their parents? Can children really understand the nature of God when we adults read book after book, listen to sermon after sermon, and still remain confused?
My wife tells me a story of how one time, when she was very, very young, she was playing at the playground and she ran over to her mother and said, “Mom. There are angels over there,” and then went back to playing. A close friend says that her son will often say in public places, “Mom. I see Jesus.” She asks him what He looks like and he responds, “He’s just beautiful.” Could these stories be embellished? Possibly. Or perhaps children, without all the baggage, disappointments, confusion, and pain that we adults carry around have a greater ability to see God.
Lately, God’s been telling me not to hinder my daughter. I don’t think this means letting her run wild during church service–the Bible also clearly talks about discipline–but I think it means not putting a limit on her ability to perceive or interact with God. To make opportunities for her to experience God. To view her not as a limited being, but as a daughter of God who has a unique calling and purpose in life. To open up opportunities where our family can minister and build together.
“…and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”