We are living in a crazy world. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard this expression a multitude of times during recent weeks. What passes as ‘news’ some days, seems more like ‘tabloid journalism!’ In a changed and changing world, childish behaviour goes viral, after the outburst has been captured on video. Talk radio hosts have plenty of ammunition by talking to ordinary people.
Being a Christ-follower does not guarantee one’s behaviour will be mature. I’ve met some leaders who, as others have suggested, seem to have been baptized in lemon juice. Intense or what? All in the name of being appropriate.
Today’s reflection from Mark 10:13-16 centres on the radical view of children modelled by Jesus Christ. “People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them.” What an opportunity existed for them when the King of kings, the Lord of lords was this close, right in their own community! Why his touch had caused the blind to see, the sick to be healed, the lame to walk. Who wouldn’t want this life-changing touch for their offspring?
Apparently some of the disciples, the ‘mature’ leaders-in-formation, thought they should run ‘security’ clearance for Jesus – you know, keep the interruptions to a minimum, keep the less than important people away from the Master. And so “the disciples rebuked them.” Mark doesn’t give the precise words, but you can only imagine the indignation with which they spoke.
Lest we get ‘high and mighty’ in our critique, what kind of priorities do we build into our lives? Are we ‘people-oriented’ or ‘task-driven?’ Do people get in the way of our well-crafted plans? Some days feel like a series of interruptions, don’t they, with very little of our original schedule followed. How ‘irritated’ do we become when God’s plan for our day alters our own?
“When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.” So instead of helping they were hindering the work of gospel-advancement! “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. And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”
Clear enough, Peter? Grap this, John? Understand this, Thomas? The Master was calling out childish behaviour and calling up childlike behaviour. There’s a huge difference that is essential to understand and imitate.
I wonder what further meditation had occurred by the time I Peter and I John were penned.
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up…” This illustration regarding spiritual appetite from I Peter 2:1-3 seems to indicate a fresh grasp of childlikeness.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” Again, John uses the analogy of children to drive home his truth. What are we called? What are we? he asks. Children. Children of God. We received the kingdom like little children, and we are blessed beyond measure to be identified as children, exactly as Christ intended when he called us to follow him.
So let’s ask God help us cultivate a new childlikeness and eradicate any childish behaviour that is hindering others from coming themselves or bringing others to Jesus for his life-changing touch.