One thing we need to realize about the Heavenly Father is that we will always be a "child" to Him. We will never get so "grown up" that he is not our Father. Think about it, this is true even on planet earth, isn't it? I am so near that "senior citizen" status right now that I can just feel that waitress at Appleby's waiting for me to hand over the "Golden Apple" (senior discount card) when I take my mother out to lunch. Doesn't matter to Mom at all… she still asks me if I don't need to stop at the restroom before we are seated at the table as she did for as many years as I have been alive. The only difference is that I never saw the inside of an Appleby's Restaurant when I was a child. And, though I have been traveling a lot for the twenty-seven years I have been in fulltime missionary service, dear ol' Mom still wants to know if I have my toothbrush and a clean pair of underwear before she lets me out of the house for the overnight speaking engagement! I may have forgotten the materials for the presentation but I will never get out of the house without my toothbrush and underwear! Why? Because I am her child and she says "You will never be too old to be my child; I don't care how old you get!" (And she means it, too!) Our Father God feels the same way about us; we are His kids! That is also why it matters to Him how we behave. He wants us to be an accurate representation of Himself to the world. He is patiently teaching us, through His Word and through the experiences He shares with us along the journey, just what He (our Father) expects of us as His child.
In addition… and I just love this about the Father… God is equally as intent on seeing that our "older" brothers treat us right! Jesus knows that the Father loves the children as much as the adults and He doesn't need to wait for them to grow up before He interacts with them, either! Check it out… head for the Gospels. One day Jesus and his disciples were headed back to Capernaum after yet another evangelistic road trip in the Galilee. Along the way, Jesus heard his disciples talking amongst themselves as they walked. Once they had reached the house, Jesus asked them what it was that they had been discussing. The account was recorded in Matthew 18:1-6:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said:
"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
If we check the last verse out in The Message paraphrase, we see a fairly graphic image:
"If you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don't have to make it worse—and it's doomsday to you if you do."
Wow, what a shock to the culture! A child would be considered the "greatest"; but, what can a child know? They didn't get it. How could this be? And, listen to that warning, will you? Serious business there and pretty bold talk from a carpenter! He sounds like those kids are His, the way he is throwing out such a warning!
Perhaps, the people, including his disciples, looked a bit skeptical because Jesus went on to make the point a bit more clear that it was not just His opinion:
Verse 10: "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."
A good reminder that they are not "just kids" to the Heavenly Father either. He will be watching to see how the children are treated!
Well, as the story progresses, we find Jesus and his disciples heading for their next stop… Judea. It is not recorded what they were talking about as they journeyed but one thing is for sure, they had not yet "got it" that kids were very important to Jesus! In the very next chapter we find the disciples were still bothered by the little children who wanted to hang around wherever they found Jesus. And, the parents were just as bad; they always insisted that Jesus pray for their children, even the babies! The disciples acted a lot like that old stereotype of the carnival barker who always chastised the children who were trying to expose his tricks… stubby cigar hanging out of the corner of his mouth, eyes shifting rapidly back and forth as he rolled his remnant of a cigar, "Go away, kid; ya bodder me. Git, go on, go tell your mudder she wants ya." Okay maybe not the cigar but the attitude is the same, right? "Go away; you are not wanted here." Here is a good place to insert that modern-day bumper sticker, WWJD? Exactly! What would Jesus do? Let's head for the Gospels and see WJD (What Jesus Did), Matthew 19:13-15:
"One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left." (New Living Translation)
Jesus took the time to pray for each child before he left for the next stop on the tour! That thrills me to bits! To Jesus and the Father Who created each one of them, the children have great value… as do you, dear Reader! He has chosen you as His child and, if you have, also, chosen Him through the precious salvation that the blood of Jesus has made possible to each of us, then you will forever be cared for by the Heavenly Father. He knows you, He cares for you and you are, forever, His child!
****Part V: But, if… why?... Coming Tomorrow