Don’t go there, right?
Jesus welcomed the little children and blessed them…he didn’t mention a cross bearing life for them.
Children are presented by Jesus as ‘model’ disciples because they are the readiest to receive the kingdom of God.
It’s one of the main reasons I do what I do. I spend time trying to work out ways of making the good news accessible to kids, because Jesus says they’re ready to come in. You can spend your ministry digging holes in concrete or you can spend it scooping out rich, fruit bearing soil. I knew where I wanted to be the moment, I had my first child.
A moment of surrender
But that moment of birth I remember also wanting to carry them in my hand forever, not letting their feet touch the ground. All they’d have to do is call.
“Call and he will command his angels to not let your feet touch the ground’.
Makes you think about our heavenly Father, letting go and the Son willingly facing the rejection and harm that was necessary to redeem our world.
None of us wants to think of them carrying a cross…instead we like to show them a baby Jesus in a manger or lead them to faith in a Jesus who will wrap his arms around them and bless them like in Mark 10.
Jesus welcomes and commends the kids as the ‘ultimate disciple’…but every disciple, must pick up his or her cross and follow their Lord. Otherwise, they are not a disciple, just an acquaintance.
We might want to protect them, feed them all the positives, encourage them to read the Bible, pray and be kind but who wants to talk to them about rejection, failure, even persecution?
What might this look like?
What does a child carrying a cross look like?
Here’s a few thoughts:
Turning the other cheek when your sibling is constantly mean
Being faithful and sticking to your ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when everyone else you know waits to see what everyone else is doing
Saying ‘yes’ to an invite before the popular kids decide to go and turning up on time, even when others have decided to be fashionably late.
Turning away from getting involved with slander or gossip, meaning that you implicitly judge your friends and bring about their disfavor
Looking out for others and including them when people usually don’t bother looking out for you and ignore you
Making sure there is no 3rd wheel, but including others
Being willing to let others be first, even if it means missing out
Inviting your friends to church events and kids’ clubs, youth groups so they can hear about Jesus
Identifying as a follower of Christ when issues like sexual orientation question your right to even have a say or be in the same world.
Being self-controlled about what you watch, listen to and read so that you don’t fill your mind with garbage.
Giving thanks in all circumstances. Like even when your friends are being great friends.
Praying for your friends …and frenemies
Being joyful through illness
Keeping faith in Jesus through disappointment, like missing out on a teacher or subject, course, job or opportunity.
No more Wonka bar discipleship
Now we of course need to handle this gently. Facing failure, rejection, hard times of any kind are not pleasant nor should we be seeking them out for our kids. I’m just saying we need to lead them away from the candy store, reduce their diet of Wonka Bars and now and then lead them to hear and reflect on how their life may be about taking up the cross of Christ.
When things are hard, or not working out…let’s encourage kids by helping them to see themselves as cross bearers. In small and big ways, light and heavy rather than give them little guidance, we can help them to see their path as one of bearing the marks of Jesus. He is considering them to be ‘fit’ for his service and he is making them ‘fit’ for his service.
When our kids do this, they won’t be just grinning and bearing it.
They’ll be ‘doing all things as to the Lord’; they’ll have the promise of his company along the way through his Holy Spirit.
And when they do, they’ll have a joy and meaningfulness to their circumstances.
They may not understand, hey, who does sometimes? Most times.
But knowing that ‘cross carrying’ is their calling if they follow Jesus, will encourage them to walk on.
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