Youth and the Kingdom of God

Dear Sunnyview Community,

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. – Mark 10:13-16

In the community of Israel, children were raised exclusively by women. It was their place in society to bring up the children until they were ready to enter the workforce (for boys) or get married (for girls).

Men did not raise children. It was not their place in the community. For a man to raise a child would mean they were not in the workforce earning for their family. Children were a distraction.

Jesus’ disciples rebuked those who were trying to bring children to Jesus because Jesus was not to be taking care of children. He was a rabbi, a teacher. Children would only be a distraction for him, they thought. It would be better for these children to be with their mothers, where they belong.

My favorite part of this story is Jesus’ reaction to this kind of thinking. The thinking that children did not belong near the kingdom of God. That there were to stay safe and sound with their mothers at home and wait until they were ready to be adults. And to this thinking, Mark says that Jesus was indignant.

Jesus saw how offensive, insulting, and unjust the thought of anything hindering these children from being a part of the kingdom of God was. For he knew the truth about the kingdom of God. It wasn’t about whether the children belonged to the kingdom because the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children. It belongs to the innocent, the loving and the passionate.

When I look at youth, I see the kind of people to which the kingdom of God belongs. I see those who will receive the kingdom of God whole heartedly. I see the kind of people that Jesus expects.

As a church, our challenge in this passage is twofold. Our first challenge it is to see our youth as those to whom the kingdom of God belongs. In our journey to becoming adults, we can easily forget what it was like to be innocent, loving and passionate. Let us humble ourselves and see what we can learn from our youth. Our second challenge is to see that God has given these youth to the church. They aren’t to be hidden away, but brought front and center. We all are to take care of those whom God has given this church.

In Christ,

Jeremy Coggins