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“Let the little children come” is a very familiar verse of scripture and a key topic in many parenting sermons. But what does it mean today to “let the little children come?” The Apostle Matthew records the story in his Gospel of people bringing their little children for Jesus to lay hands on them (Matthew 19:13-15). The disciples rebuked the people and wanted to send them away. Perhaps they thought the children were bothering Christ; he had more important things to do. Jesus corrects them saying, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (NIV, Matt. 19:14).
Of course, we think to ourselves. How could anyone think Jesus doesn’t want to see the kids? Sounds like a pretty dumb mistake to most people. But what does it look like to bring our children to Jesus today, now that he is gone back to heaven? How do we apply these verses to our growing families? How do we make sure we are not making the same dumb mistake the disciples did in our families? Let me give you three important ways to bring your children to Jesus.
First, we should share our testimony and the story of our day-to-day encounters with God with our children. Jesus may have gone to be with his Father in heaven, but he sent his Spirit back down to live with us. Twice in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ. Jesus makes it clear that he and the Holy Spirit are one when he promises to send the Spirit to the disciples. This is what Jesus says after explaining that he is going to the Father to prepare a place for them.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14:18-20 ESV)
Jesus is not describing the second coming here. He is describing how he, through the Holy Spirit, comes to live with each of his children. So you see, Jesus has remained here and lives within the heart of everyone who believes.
It is amazing how many parents keep their interactions with the Spirit of Christ to themselves. How are our children, who do not yet believe, supposed to meet the Savior you never talk about your relationship and how he helps you? When the Spirit of God convicts you, don’t just confess your sin; let them know that God, by his Spirit, brought conviction. Share the testimony of how Jesus made your once dead heart alive again.
Second, take your children to church every Sunday. The church is the new temple of God; it is a living temple (2 Corinthians 6:16, 19). God’s people are the living stones (1 Peter 2:5) that make up this new temple, and Jesus is our Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). He is the head of the church, and we are the body (Colossians 1:18). Every believer presents a living illustration of God’s saving work. It doesn’t take long in a vibrant church, full of faithful believers, for our children to recognize how different they are to the unsaved community around them. That helps them grow in their desire for Christ and become a part of God’s redeemed community.
Did you ever notice how often our children listen to strangers better than they listen to us? The impact other believers can have on your children to introduce them to Jesus should not be underestimated. When the church reinforces what you’ve been teaching at home, it validates the discipleship of your children and helps protect them from the lies of the world. So don’t just attend the Sunday service, throw yourself and your family into the life of the church.
Finally, teach your children theology. Theology, simply put, is the study of God, and Jesus is at the center of that study. Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) When we study the truth of God’s Word with our children, we are giving them Jesus, who is the Truth. A careful study of scripture reveals that the whole story, from Genesis to Revelation, points us to salvation in Jesus. When it comes to theology, some parents make the same mistake the disciples did. They think children are too young to learn theology. Which means their children don’t learn all they need to know about Jesus. Don’t make that mistake.
Don’t be fooled. We teach our children theology every day. When you get angry at the guy who cut you off driving your family to the store, your life is teaching them theology – that God is not in control. When you watch TV programs that go on for hours, never mentioning God, you are teaching them theology – that God isn’t that important. When you live your life day in and day out without prayer, you are teaching them theology – that you can work things out yourself. Proactive theological instruction helps us counteract the poor theology they receive.
So, while we strive to live godly lives, we need to take time to teach our children the truth about God. Who he is, where he came from, who they are, why they sin, and how they can be saved. All that is theology and learning those truths will lead them to Jesus.
Share what God is doing in your life with your children, take them to church, and teach them good theology. Remember, all you have to do is introduce them to Jesus. He is the one who works to transform their sinful hearts.
Marty Machowski is a family life pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA, where he has served on the pastoral staff for more than 20 years. As leader of their children’s ministry, he has worked for many years to develop kids’ Bible curriculum and devotional material that connect church and home. His passion is equipping families to understand the Bible as one gospel story and help them share that with their children. His latest release is The Ology.