Suffer Not the Little Children

Episode #32: (Post on Sunday) Suffer Not the Little Children The LKN Faith Podcast

Est. Reading Time:

6 minutes

Matthew 19:13-15 (ESV)

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.

Matthew 18:1-6 (ESV)

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

My family has been in preparations for our annual visit to Carolina Bible Camp, also known as CBC.  I have been associated with Bible Camps since I was a young boy in western Pennsylvania, where I attended Camp Concern with my family.

Camp time is a period of many, often, conflicting emotions.  On one hand, it is time-consuming to prepare for: physically, mentally, and spiritually.  And on the other hand, it gets harder every year to break away from work for a week in order to head to camp.  Then when camp is completed, you are physically and mentally exhausted – just in time to go back to your job and dig out from under a mound of work.

But, on the opposite hand, nothing in life will pick your spirits up like a week at CBC.  I view CBC as my Fortress of Solitude.  It is my retreat from the burdens and pressures of everyday life.  It is my “Elijah in the Cave” moment (1 Kings 19).

While I go each year with the intent to minister and to serve others – I always leave with my cup refilled and my soul refreshed.

When people from work ask me about what I do at camp, I am quick to remind them that this is not a week of beach vacation.  My days begin at 6:00 AM and end about 11:30 PM and I am on-the-go almost all day long.

People will ask me, then why do you do it?

There are many reasons.  One reason I typically share is that being around children is invigorating.  They are still optimistic about life – no one has taught them to be pessimistic, yet.

But that is an oversimplification.  Every year we have a few campers who come to camp who have never been in a structured, spiritual environment.  Or they have very real worries and issues at home.  These campers usually manifest themselves early in the week.  We get to know them because of their struggles with other campers or staff.  And they are often referred to me because they are not fitting in: they rebel against the rules and norms of the week.

Experience has taught me that these are the children literally crying out for love and attention.  These are the children who need my time and focus the most.

It is a privilege and honor to get to be the conduit for Jesus’ love to these campers in need.

Usually after the week is finished, and I have had a chance to rest, my mind often wonders which children in need avoided my attention, or were beyond my skillset.

I realize that many of these children go back into environments that would be tough for any seasoned Christian adult, let alone a young and vulnerable child.

As I sit thinking about camp, my mind goes to two passages in the New Testament: Matt 19:13-15 and Matt 18:1-6.

In both passages, Jesus is talking.  And in both passages, Jesus uses children to teach us something very important.

First, in Matthew 19:13-15, children are brought to Jesus for him to minister to them.  Adults, being adults, felt Jesus was too important to be bothered with the issues and concerns of these little children.  So, they, being adults, rebuked the children and those who brought them to Jesus.  Jesus simply said to not to prevent the children from coming to Him.

There are many lessons and interpretations to this passage.  But what seem to impress me about this passage, as I prepare for camp, is that children’s issues and problems are important too.  They, also, need Jesus, just like adults do.  And Jesus desires to help them with their problems and issues.

I am prayerful that, in my fatigue and humanity, I remember this lesson at CBC this year.  I need to help bring these campers to Jesus – only He can truly solve their problems or meet their needs.

The second passage is Matthew 18:1-6.  In this passage, adults are seeking to know how they can be great in Jesus’ kingdom.  I often wonder if they, like me, are trying to justify themselves.  They want Jesus to say to them, “You are perfect just the way you are.  Don’t change anything.  You already do too much for me.”  But Jesus’ response is a surprise, He tells them that, in order to be great, you need to be like little children.

I know that there are many lessons in this passage, and many great scholars disagree on the exact intent of this passage.  But, as I prepare for camp this year, I wonder if Jesus isn’t talking directly to me.  Is He saying to me, “Rob, learn from the campers this year.  Watch how they interact with others.  Watch how they are so easily humbled before Jesus.  Notice how tender-hearted they can be.  See how willing they are to help others.”

Yes, I know children can be withdrawn, selfish, temperamental, difficult, and sometimes mean.  But usually that is their defense-shield or their signal that they need help.

And once you can show them you care about them and are there to help, you will see a tender and sincere response to your love.

My goal this week will be to be equally tender-hearted and sincere. 

Finally, it breaks my heart to think we will again have children with us who do not know love or truth.  Or, they’ve grown up in loving families but are deprived of the necessities of life. 

For some of our campers, this one week at CBC will be the only vacation or retreat they get in their entire lives.  This may be their only chance to be in a spiritual, loving environment.

My prayer is that these campers will find Jesus in me: in my words, my thoughts, and my actions. 

I hope that they will get to see Jesus in my example this year at Carolina Bible Camp.

And I hope I will remember how important these children and their problems are to Jesus.

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