I am not a child expert. I once was a child. I have two children. I have not been a perfect parent. I have made a lot of mistakes. I have not been consistent. There have been days where I felt like I was pretty confident in my parenting abilities and then there have been days where my kids would have been better off to have been raised by wolves.
Raising kids can be hard. It is harder to get a driver license than it is to take a child home from the hospital. Add the demands of life on top of raising children and it can create a volatile situation. Stress causes us to see our kids differently. We view our kids as consumers. We convince ourselves that we can placate our kids by giving them stuff. So to make kids happy we buy toys and gadgets. We feel guilty for not spending time with our kids so we buy them the latest video game. We think we can make them happy by filling their lives with stuff. Or we view kids as commodities. Their value is determined by whether or not they can raise the reputation of parents. We view what they do as more important than who they are.
How does Jesus view children? Jesus was a child. Jesus healed a child of a foreign woman. He cast a demon out of a child. Jesus raised a child from the dead. He said if you received a child in his name, you receive him and the one who sent him. When Jesus came riding into Jerusalem it was the children who cried out “Hosanna!” Jesus used a child’s loaves and fish to feed five thousand people. He took children in his arms and blessed them. Jesus shows us that children have the capacity to teach us about God. Children have the potential to reveal God to us.
They can teach us about God and about ourselves but for that to happen we must slow down and let them be children. We need to set aside intentional time to play with our kids. We are constantly saying “no” to our kids. There needs to be moments when we say “yes.” We need moments where we don’t expect anything from our children. Set aside time in your life where you will let your kids just be kids. When we welcome a child, we are welcoming God. When a church forgets the child, they forget God. When politicians make policies that leave out children, they are leaving out God. When we create a culture that keeps children from being children, we forget God. When we welcome those in our society who are powerless, we welcome the most powerful One of all.