It's a Small World
May 19, 2020 | Pastor Ted
If you’ve been to any of the Disney theme parks did you treat yourself and family to the “It’s a Small World” ride? I use the word “treat” facetiously … “curse” may be a better word. While the ride itself is a delight to the eyes, it is murderous on the ears. Who can escape the never-ending song, “It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world afterall …”? The tune has the capacity to incessantly assault the mind for days on end. Or maybe that’s just me.
When it comes to God’s world, it is a small world. God loves everybody, and especially small children. Children have always been interested in God.
One Christian schoolteacher asked her young students to write some letters to God. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Dear God-Please put another Holiday between Christmas and Easter. There is nothing good in there now. —Ginny
Dear God, We read Thomas Edison made light. But in Sunday School they that said you did it. So I bet he stoled your idea. —Donna
Our job as parents and grandparents, pastors, teachers and others is to create a desire in our kids for the things of God. In Mark 10:13-16, we see once again, Jesus loving on the little children and thus, highlighting their importance to God. One of the most beautiful pictures in the New Testament is where Jesus takes little children in His arms and blesses them.
Mark 10:13-16. “People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When 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. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”
Let’s consider three observations about children.
- IT’S GOOD FOR PARENTS TO BRING THEIR CHILDREN TO JESUS
We read, “People were bringing little children to Jesus.” (Mark 10:13) These people who were bringing their kids to Jesus aren’t identified, but we may assume they were parents and grandparents.
It’s important for parents and grandparents to bring their children to church and to make sure they have spiritual training from the earliest age. It’s rare, but every now and then I’ll come upon a set of parents who don’t want to influence their children spiritually. They just want them to grow up and be exposed to many difference ideas and when they are old enough they’ll decide for themselves. That’s a terrible strategy.
Two fathers who were discussing this very topic. One man talked about how important it was to train his children in the truths of the Bible. The other man disagreed and said he wanted his children to grow up with no spiritual instruction. It was clear they were not going to convince each other, so finally the father who believed in spiritual training changed the subject. He said, “Would you care to see my garden?” The other man said, “Sure.” They walked around the house and saw a patch of ground overgrown with weeds, thorns and thistles. The guest said, “Why that’s no garden, that’s just an overgrown weed bed.” The owner said, “My philosophy of farming is that I never want to prejudice the soil in any way. I don’t want to influence the soil with good seeds. I just let whatever is in the soil grow.” His friend said, “Now I know why you think spiritual training of your children is a wise strategy. I agree.”
There is a powerful promise found in Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
Many parents have misunderstood that verse. That think if you indoctrinate your kids correctly, they may wander off, but when they turn 65 or 70 they’ll always come back to God. What a waste. Some parents see the word “train” and it may take on several meanings, from stern discipline to rote memorization of rules and regulations. They make growing up in this kind of a home a lot like basic training in the military.
But this word “train” in the Hebrew language is a beautiful word. It was a word used by Hebrew midwives who delivered babies. They would roll their forefingers in a mixture of olive oil and sweet crushed dates. Then they would slip their finger into the infant’s mouth and massage the palate to stimulate the sucking instinct. They were creating in the baby a desire for nourishment. Our job as parents and grandparents is to create a desire in our kids for the things of God. It is to show them that the things of God are sweet and nourishing to them. And once you create that desire in them to know God, they never really lose it. They may fight against it and rebel, but that desire is there as much as a baby grows up wanting to drink nourishment.
Here's a second thing …
- JESUS WARNS AGAINST HINDERING CHILDREN FROM APPROACHING HIM
As the parents brought these children, the disciples started acting like bodyguards trying to keep the riff-raff away from Jesus. We read, “The disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he was indignant … He said, ‘Do not hinder them.’” (Mark 10:13-14) Now, before we are too hard on the disciples, we’re told in verse 1, that Jesus and his disciples had left Judea and they were on the other side of the Jordan River. They were in the land of Perea, and these people weren’t Jews. The disciples assumed Jesus didn’t want to waste His time on Gentile children, but they were wrong. In fact, this is one of the few times the Bible says Jesus got angry. He was indignant.
During the first century in the Roman Empire, children were not valued. In Rome there is a preserved papyrus letter from a Roman soldier to his wife. She was expecting a child. Her husband writes, “If our child is a son, keep him. But if our child is a female throw it away.” They lived in the age of throwaway kids.
But Jesus loves the little children, even Gentile children. In the previous chapter Jesus had warned about danger of hindering a child from coming to Him. He said, “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.” (Mark 9:42) Jesus meant you’d be better off dead than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.
I shudder every time I think about how wicked people are forcing children into child pornography, or using them to sell their illegal drugs. Children around the world are being used and abused in a wicked network of sexual slavery that reaches from New Jersey to every nation. Does your heart not break for those precious children? I think the hottest places in hell must be reserved for those adults who are abusing these children.
R.L. Sharpe wrote,
“Isn’t it strange that princes and kings;
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings;
And common folk like you and me;
Are the builders of eternity?
To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass and a book of rules;
And each must make, ‘ere time is flown,
A stumbling-block or a stepping-stone.”
When it comes to children, make sure you are building stepping-stones!
- IT’S EASIER TO COME TO CHRIST AS A CHILD
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me…and he took them in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.” (Mark 10:14, 16) The very best time for a person to come to Jesus is as a child. I am often asked how old a child needs to be before they can accept Christ. They need to be old enough to recognize that they are a sinner who needs Jesus. We call this the age of accountability. All kids in church grow up learning scripture and they talk about having Jesus in their heart from a very early age. And all kids are sinners. They are born selfish. They grab all the toys. They are born rebellious. They learn to say, “NO!” But they are just playing out their instinct to sin. A child before the age of accountability doesn’t need to be saved because they are SAFE. That’s why we believe if an infant or a toddler dies, they go straight to heaven; they aren’t accountable for their sin. When King David’s infant son died he said, “He cannot return to me, but I can go to him.” David believed his son was in heaven.
But once a child reaches an age around 5, 6, 7, or 8—it varies. They cross a line where all of a sudden they know what sin is, and they choose to disobey God or their parents. The best time for a child to be saved is once they understand they are a sinner who needs Jesus.
The easiest time for people to come to Christ is when they are children. George Barna’s research group has gathered the data to prove this. A few years ago they did an extensive study about the age when people came to Christ. Their findings are interesting. In America 50% of Christians come to know the Lord before age 13; 64% come to Christ before age 18; 77% come to Christ before age 21. And only 23% of the Christians in the U.S. came to Christ after the age of 21.
So parents, and grandparents, if you have kids in your family who are seven, eight, or nine years old, I encourage you to share the plan of salvation with them. It will never be easier for them to trust Jesus than it is right now.
Friends, if you have read this far, I say thank you. Now reward yourself with this moving account of a child being impacted by the love of a pastor.
It was on a cold, rainy Monday morning in New Jersey. A visiting pastor announced that he would preach daily morning services every week during Holy Week. A ten-year-old boy walked through the rain to attend the service. When the visiting pastor walked out, he saw that the boy was the only person in the church. Years later, after the boy became a man, he wrote about his experience on that Monday morning. “I wondered what the Minister would do, but when the hour set for worship arrived, the pastor walked into the pulpit and began the service as if the church was filled to capacity. He looked down at me with a smile of great sincerity and spoke earnestly to me about the love of God. When the time came for the offering, the minister held out the offering plate and I walked to the front and placed my nickel in the plate. The pastor smiled at me and placed his big, gentle hand on my head. In walking back to my seat, I knew this man’s God was a real God, and that every child mattered to God. It left a lump in my throat, and I cannot think of it today without emotion.”
That was a turning point in the spiritual development of this boy. He started reading the Bible every day for the rest of his life. His name was Cecil B. Demille, who would grow up to become one of the most successful movie producers in Hollywood. He produced movies like, “The Ten Commandments,” “The King of Kings,” and “The Sign of the Cross.” He once said, “My ministry has been to make religious movies and to get more people to read the Bible than anyone else ever has.”
Who can calculate the impact that pastor had on a ten-year-old boy when he cared enough to show him God’s love when he was the only one at church. We have the same opportunity to impact and influence children.
Remember, it’s a small world…after all!