Mark 10:13-15 tells an interesting story about Jesus, children and heaven; let’s take a look.
“People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch 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. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’” (NIV)
Recently I was meeting a friend for lunch at a familiar restaurant, one that we have visited frequently in the past. However, on this occasion the restaurant had just reopened after a major renovation project. Everything about the restaurant was new except for the name and location.
As I was waiting for my friend I watched several people enter the restaurant. You could see it in their facial expression — a sense of curiosity, as their eyes darted from side to side to see what was new, to figure out where they had to go to order, and to decide where they were going to sit.
I shared my observations with my friend as we stood in line to place our orders. She commented, “I am not sure that I like what they’ve done.” For the next several minutes we discussed the changes. There were some we thought were good and some we felt were not so good. There were also some that we thought should have been changed or should have been changed in a different way.
As we were eating my friend told me about her children getting ready for school that morning. It was their first day back after the summer vacation. Her youngest daughter asked if she could take an apple as a gift for her teacher. Then after a few minutes, she changed her mind and suggested that maybe a peach would be a better choice.
My friend agreed that a peach would be a fine first day back gift for her teacher and sent her to the refrigerator to pick out a nice one. She then asked the older daughter if she would also like to take an apple or a peach for her teacher as well. Her older daughter, who is now in the third grade, considered the situation for a moment before answering. “Maybe,” she said. “You can put an apple in my lunch sack, if some of the other kids brought gifts for the teacher, I will give her the apple if not I’ll just eat it.”
My friend’s humorous story about her children reminded me of Jesus’ comment that to enter the kingdom of heaven we must first become like children. Like my friend’s youngest daughter who just wanted to give her teacher a gift without hesitation or reservation instead of like the older daughter who was being guided by peer pressure instead of God’s grace.
John R. Fowler is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Prosper.