A while back, I read an article on Huffington Post titled “Six Surprising Ways Jesus Changed the World” by John Ortberg. Brother Ortberg covered all this ground in one article. I, however, never miss a chance to milk a subject for all it’s worth. So, for the next six days, I’m going to write about these ways Jesus changed our world, one at a time. At the end, I might even throw in a couple of my own. Today, we’re going to talk about children. Jesus had a real heart for poor, the oppressed and the downtrodden and in 1st century Palestine, very few people met that criteria better than kids. If you were a girl child, well, that was a double whammy. Female children were often abandoned to the elements or sold into slavery. Children were basically chattel, to be handled in whatever way the head of the family decided. Being a kid in that time and place was no picnic.
Then, along comes this strange dude who starts saying things like:
“I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
“Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. 15 I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.”
This was big stuff in those days. A man spending time with children that weren’t even his? And, saying that we adults need to become like children to understand the Gospel? Is he serious? And, does really think we’ll do that? The answer to both is yes. But, we haven’t really haven’t done a very good job of it.
Certainly, things are better for some children these days. Here in the western world, children are, mostly, loved and cared for regardless of their sex; most have a warm, dry and safe place to sleep; most have plenty to eat; many are part of a church family or extended community that values them. You’ll notice I used a lot of “mosts” and “manys”. That’s because not all children are this fortunate. There are still countries where it is common practice to drown girl infants or sell a young girl into slavery. There are places in this world where children walk miles for food that most westerners wouldn’t touch and if they did, it wouldn’t be enough. There are places in this world where children walk miles for water we wouldn’t keep in our toilets. There are places in this world where children are raising children because their parents died of AIDS. There are places in this world where children are fed drugs and made soldiers. There are places in the world where children live in war zones, both military and civilian. There are children who are maimed and wounded well after wars are over because governments suck at cleaning up their own messes and leave live ordinance and mines all over the countryside. Jesus has a special place in his heart for children and it’s breaking everyday because humanity doesn’t seem to give a shit about them. He set the example; if we truly want to change the world we need to follow it.