In Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14, Jesus tells us how we should treat the children among us. Do we heed His command?
The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.
What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”
Important words from Our Lord, Jesus the Christ:
“Unless you turn and become like children…”
“Whoever becomes humble like this child…”
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name…”
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones.”
Who are these children and children such as this? Actual children, of course, but also the childlike: the innocent, the humble, the loving, the trusting, the disabled, the small and vulnerable and unable to look out after themselves. And they are everywhere.
Some how we grow out of being childlike. We become teens with the angst and distrust and seeking of independence. Then we become adults with the lust and the greed and the anger and often hate. And we turn on children. Children, whom Jesus loved and lifted in his ministry.
We live in a society today that takes advantage of “children” of every kind. We refuse to take care of them when they are the most vulnerable and most in need. We prey on them and discard them and belittle them. Many of the wicked call themselves “Christians,” yet except to proselytize them for profit they fail to meet Jesus’ standards expressed in his very words today. God’s message to our evil ones? “See that you do not despise one of these little ones.”
And Jesus calls on us to be like these children: Open-hearted, open-minded, loving, embracing, and innocent, humble and open to God’s love and sharing that love.
Very powerful is the last sentence. Among us are those who are children and the childlike, and our Heavenly Father would be most displeased “that one of these little ones be lost.” Imagine his displeasure when those children are led astray or taken advantage of or turned to evil purposes. Woe to those who despise them for their color or their name or their race or their ethnic origin or their poverty or even their faith. Woe to those who prey upon them sexually or exploit them for their labor. Woe to those who seek to manipulate their minds for their own ends. Woe to those who rob them of their childhood. God is watching.
The world is full of adults who spend far too much time “being real” or seeing the world in “reality.” God wants us to see the world with the eyes of a child. He doesn’t want us to be fools, He wants us to love and be loved. What wonder there is in the eyes of a child who lives in a world of love. God’s love lived in the lives of all of us.