Let the Little Children Come
June 20, 2022

Let the Little Children Come

By Margaret Rees-Jones, Advisory Board Member

“O Lord, your divine tenderness always outsoars the narrow loves and kindnesses of earth. Grant me today a kind and gentle heart toward all things that live. Help me to take a stand against cruelty to any creatures of yours. Help me to be actively concerned for the welfare of little children, and those who are sick, and of the poor, remembering that what I do for the least of these brothers and sisters of his, I do for Jesus Christ my Lord.”

– John Baillie, Scottish Minister

As school gets out for summer, I see so many children out and about— bicycling down the block, walking the aisles at the grocery store, sitting in the yard, or playing basketball at a park nearby. As a mother of a 22-month-old and currently expecting, I consider how children have impacted my own life. My children are changing me in ways I can’t even begin to count… and much for the better!

My husband and I are watching The Chosen, and we have been struck by the attitude of Jesus towards children in the series. At the beginning of His ministry on earth, they spend an entire episode to show Jesus just spending time with them, building things, playing, laughing, teaching, and loving on them in tangible ways. He isn’t too busy for them. His prioritization and treatment of children is radical, gentle, and even unexpected. Below, we see this same truth echoed in the Scriptures:

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” – Matthew 19:14 NIV

“And said to them, ‘Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.’” – Luke 9:48 ESV

In Psalm 127:3, the Message version even describes children as “God’s best gift” to us—

“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?”

This is a profound notion not only for their time, but also for ours, even now. In my own journey of motherhood, I recall the first year of parenting. As someone who likes to accomplish a task, motherhood revealed an intense desire in me for productivity, for efficiency, for task completion that I didn’t know I had. I stepped back to find that I had valued those things over relationship in many areas of my life. While our Western world often values productivity and performance over everything, I am slowly realizing that this is not the way of Jesus. His life on earth was not about producing or performing or profiting; it was purely about being with the Father and with us. I am simultaneously shocked and delighted by this discovery! If we look at His Word, we see how even we, adult as we are, are called His children:

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” -1 John 3:1 ESV

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” – Romans 8:15-17 MSG

In the eyes of God, the weakness and dependency of a child is no longer a burden or something to be ashamed about; it’s a gift! We need His lens on things to show us the truth not only of who He is to us, but of who we are. While dependency doesn’t particularly sound appealing on first mention to me, it’s necessary to understanding His Kingdom. I remind myself that I am called to enter like a child—heart full of humility, need, curiosity, and perhaps, even wonder at who He is.

To take it a step further, we are also called to value and prioritize the same things that God does. The Word of God constantly reveals His heartbeat to us on this particular topic, and it is that children really matter. They are important. They are worthy of our time, our love, and our best efforts. A woman of faith at our church reminded me recently: Jesus was not too important for the little children. He didn’t shoo them away or try to attend to matters supposedly more pressing. He spent time with them, patiently and lovingly pouring into their souls.

What is the implication for us in this—in our homes, our work, and our world?

I love the beginning prayer because John Baillie had heard God’s heart on this, too. He prays, “Help me to take a stand against cruelty to any creatures of yours. Help me to be actively concerned for the welfare of little children…”

What does this concern look like lived out in our world? How do we prioritize not just our own children, but all children who live in the city of Dallas and beyond?

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