Mark 9:33-50

Intro Transition:

  • Why do we spend the time we do on children?
    Why do we do it?
  • Because we always have?
  • Because we are obligated to do it?
  • Or do we have a deeper motivation, one that is rooted in the teaching and example of Christ.

    The Church That Blessed Children (revisited):
    Winslow Church of Christ
    Once over a third of it’s 80 or so members were youth and children.
    Almost all the adults were used to teaching classes.
    The VBS of that little church was highly regarded.
    It was at one of those VBS’s that I was the only teen in the teen class. I was 13. I had two teachers that night. They didn’t ignore me, in fact it became a very special time and I was taught one-to-one. (This was foundational in my conversion.)

    So What?

    1. Let’s never squabble about who’s the greatest and commit to serving the least.
      • This whole issue arose from an internal argument among the Twelve – among the top leaders.
      • When Jesus pulls a child near him and blesses him this is not a gentle reminder. This contradicted their whole view of reality. Children were not held in great esteem in the first century.
      • Children were (and are): vulnerable, weak, cannot repay kindness and service like adults.
      • Thanks to Christianity children are probably shown more concern than ever before, but sometimes that concern is patronizing and conditional.
      • Children are often the innocent bystanders of our wars.
        • The suffering and abuse of children makes the news, but I fear it is becoming commonplace
        • Children are the victims in society and in wars around the world ...
        • and this can even be true in church! (Wouldn’t it be a shame to lose children because they are turned away by petty bickering!)
          • Jesus said it would be better if we had a big stone slung around our neck and be thrown into the sea than to cause our little ones to sin.
          • In our grand debates about who’s the strong and the weak brother do we ever stop to consider that our children, being new Christians or not yet Christians, are the weak? And yet we too often expect them to be the strong and put up with our foolishness. We ought to be bearing their foolishness in love and patience, not the other way around. That’s what being an adult is about.
        • Let’s not squabble like children and start serving children – and let’s not stop there. We can serve one another. We can serve strangers.

    2. Let’s welcome children as we would welcome Christ.
      • This alone justifies all the attention and love we give to children.
      • We may be faced with so many things that seem more important and urgent and we ought to be careful that we do not neglect the children.
      • Jesus re-directed his disciples: If we asked Jesus “is all this work for children worth it?” How would he respond? I think his answer is clear ...
      • “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
        • We can be too fearful of those we fellowship with. To be a welcoming, hospitable people is at the heart of the gospel. But when we make assumptions about others we miss out on what God is doing to not only redeem individuals but also community.

    3. Let’s make it a priority and calling to be a church and people that bless children.
      • In a world where children are often cursed, we need this so badly.
      • But how do we do this? Can we do this?
        • I am not surprised that we might find it awkward and unfamiliar, but that doesn’t mean it is unbiblical, in fact it is very biblical. (See Numbers 6 – Moses’ blessing).
        • As Christians, we are called to minister to one another and bless one another
        • I am fortunate to have experienced blessings. That night at VBS when two teachers demonstrated genuine concern but also spoke the truth to me was a blessing. They prayed with me and for me.
        • I have enjoyed having my children blessed and I want to share this with you.
          • We give showers and parties and gifts to children, and praise God for that.
          • But we dare not do that to the neglect of the spiritual blessings!
          • And remember that children need not be sick or newborn for you to bless them. There are ample opportunities (The Back-to School service, tutoring, the Youth Ministry, FLOCK and Gateway, children’s worship).

    Chris Benjamin

    West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
    Evening Sermon, 14 August 2005

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