“People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.” (Luke 18:15)
When Jesus saw what the disciples were doing he chastised them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (vs. 16)
Apparently the disciples thought that they were protecting Jesus from people wanting to bring their children to him. But Jesus didn’t think he was being bothered. He said, “Do not hinder them.”
There is a lesson to us in these words. God does not want us to be an obstacle to our children being brought to him or finding him. Just as we are responsible for nurturing the physical wellbeing of our children, so too, are we are responsible for nurturing the wellbeing of their souls.
There are many ways that this can happen. We can introduce them early on to the idea that there is a loving God who created us and all that exists. He humbled himself to become one of us, and gave his life for us in order to save us from eternal death and destruction. Then he sent his Holy Spirit to be with us and give us wisdom, knowledge, and strength to cope with a hostile world.
It is a long term process that takes perseverance in guidance and instruction as well as the example of our own lives – perhaps the most difficult aspect of parenting. Young children are great imitators. They imitate what they see their parents doing.
I had a good friend who has passed on from this life. He was a good and righteous man who was active in prison ministry and a ministry to the workplace in which we were both involved. I always remember a story he shared that had so much influence on his life. He said that when he was a young boy and would come downstairs in the morning he would find his father on his knees praying in their living room. He said it had a huge impact on him throughout his life, something he always remembered when he started to get off track.
Lest we think that the spiritual component of our children’s lives is not as important as their physical and intellectual nurturing, Jesus has even stronger words for us when he says, “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.” (Luke 17:2-4)
As our children move from childhood through the teen years and into adulthood, there are many minefields facing their journey, particularly in today’s culture. It is important as parents that we instruct them when we have the opportunity, correct them when there is wrongdoing and provide loving guidance and prayer as the need and opportunity arise.
We certainly don’t want to “hinder them” as Jesus invites and draws them near.