Once a year, we set aside a Sunday to celebrate the children. Big, small, rich, poor, present here, present around the world. Each year we’ve taken a different tack at how to make kids the main thing that Sunday. We’ve thanked God for our kids and educated ourselves on the way that other children around the state or around the world aren’t cared for and taken action. But today, I want to take a different look: I want us to consider how we’d see God, and how we’d react to what God wants from us, if we saw it all through the eyes of children.
I found five cases where a child or teenager was a determining factor in the narrative of the Bible.
In Genesis 22, when Isaac recognized that there was not a lamb to be sacrificed, I would argue that Isaac knew he was the sacrifice. Isaac was not fooled by Abraham- kids know when their parents are stressed or out of sorts. Isaac knew what was going on, and still he was obedient.
In I Samuel 3, the boy Samuel is attentive to the call of God, he is obedient to his mentor Eli, and he speaks the truth to both Eli and the people of God. Without Samuel, the word of God is not made known in the world that day, but because of him, God’s will is done.
In Luke 1, a teenager, Mary is told she’s going to be impregnated by the Holy Spirit, and her response is, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” Mary says yes to God… and we get the Savior of the world.
In Luke 2, Jesus stays behind when his parents leave Jerusalem, but amazes everyone with his wisdom and understanding. And he gently rebukes his mother’s worry, saying that she knew where he was all of the time. Jesus, even as a teenager, knew who he was and what his purpose was, and his single-minded focus kept him headed to the cross… and beyond.
And finally, in John 6, a boy, who never speaks in the narrative, shares his lunch, and his generosity feeds thousands of people because God made a miracle out of it. Someone heard the messages that Jesus was sharing, as a child, and immediately put the meaning into practice.
Obedience. Attentiveness and truth speaking. Wisdom and discipleship. Generosity.
Out of the mouths of babes, right? Kids Say The Darndest Things according to Bill Cosby…
So what would church look like today if we listened to what our kids have to say about church? Sometimes funny, sometimes bittersweet, sometimes enlightening, kids have a way of saying the most amazing things.
You all don’t know it but I keep the forwards you send me, and today, I want to share with you from the view of the children about God, about church, about love. Sure, they probably weren’t all said or written by kids, but who says we can’t learn from a kid’s level perspective? Who says that these stories can’t remind us of these Biblical teenagers, and drive us toward entire sanctification? (grins)
Eight-year-old Danny was given the homework to “explain God,” and so he wrote:
“One of God’s main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn’t make grownups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn’t have to take up his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.”
“God’s second most important job is listening to prayers An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn’t have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off.”
“God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn’t go wasting his time by going over your mom and dad’s head asking for something they said you couldn’t have.” [Smart kid.]
“Atheists are people who don’t believe in God. I don’t think there are any where I live. At least there aren’t any who come to our church.”
God said Jesus could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important.”
“You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time. You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there’s anybody you want to make happy, it’s God! Don’t skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides the sun doesn’t come out at the beach until noon anyway.”
On an unrelated note, there’s the story of the little girl who went to a wedding and asked her mother why the bride was in all white? Her mother replied, ‘Because white is the color of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.’ The child thought about this for a moment then said, ‘So why is the groom wearing black?’ [But I digress…]
I encountered my son with two other boys in the neighborhood bragging about their dads. The first boy said, ‘My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, they give him $50..’
The second boy said, ‘That’s nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on piece of paper, he calls it a song, they give him $100.’
But my son replied ‘I got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon, and it takes eight people to collect all the money!’
A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to ‘Honor thy father and thy mother,’ she asked, ‘Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?’ Without missing a beat, one little boy answered, ‘Thou shall not kill.’
At Sunday School they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam’s ribs.
Later in the week his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and she said, ‘Johnny, what is the matter?’ Little Johnny responded, ‘I have pain in my side.. I think I’m going to have a wife.’
I was making his rounds on a bicycle, when he came upon a little boy trying to sell a lawn mower. “How much do you want for the mower?” I asked.
“I just want enough money to go out and buy me a bicycle,” said the little boy. After a moment of consideration, I asked, “Will you take my bike in trade for it?”
The little boy asked if he could try it out first, and, after riding the bike around a little while, said, “Mister, you’ve got yourself a deal.”
I took the mower and began to crank it. He pulled on the rope a few times with no response from the mower.
I called the little boy over and said, “I can’t get this mower to start.” The little boy said, “That’s because you have to cuss at it to get it started.”
I said, “I can’t cuss. It’s been so long since I became a Christian that I don’t even remember how to cuss.”
The little boy looked at him happily and said, “You just keep pulling on that rope. It’ll come back to ya.”
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it if it will save her.” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?” Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her…. and he was still willing to give it all up.
That reminds me of the joke about the kid who came home from Sunday School, told his Dad he’d learned about Moses and the Egyptians. The Dad asked what he’d learned, expecting to hear about the parting of the Red Sea. The kid said, well Moses called down aliens, stormed the castle, and defeated the bad guys with rocket launchers. The Dad asked incredulously, “that’s really what she taught you???” To which the kid replied, “well, no, but you’d never believe what she told us.”
Isn’t that the truth? Kids are generous, open, unassuming, trusting, eager, and full of grace. If we adults could be more like them, wouldn’t Jesus be glorified?
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not prevent them, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”
Will you be like a child? Will you be childlike for God’s glory, that God might show himself to you and shine through you?
I’ll leave you with this, just because I can’t resist:
“A wife was making a breakfast of fried eggs for her husband. Suddenly, her husband burst into the kitchen. ‘Careful,’ he said, ‘CAREFUL! Put in some more butter! Oh my gosh! You’re cooking too many at once. TOO MANY! Turn them! TURN THEM NOW! We need more butter. Oh my gosh! WHERE are we going to get MORE BUTTER? They’re goi ng to STICK! Careful. CAREFUL! I said be CAREFUL! You NEVER listen
to me when you’re cooking! Never! Turn them! Hurry up! Are you CRAZY? Have you LOST your mind? Don’t forget to salt them. You know you always forget to salt them. Use the salt. USE THE SALT! THE SALT!’ The wife stared at him. ‘What in the world is wrong with you? You think I don’t know how to fry a couple of eggs?’ The husband calmly replied, ‘I just wanted to show you what it feels like when I’m driving.'”
Today, I pray you laugh. Laugh like you used to as a child when you were carefree. Laugh with your family; laugh with the infectious nature of a child’s joy. Laugh at yourself- it’ll provide you with the best laugh you’ve ever had.
May God be glorified in your laughter, and show himself in your joy.
This sermon is for the 11 a.m. worship service to celebrate Children’s Sabbath at Blandford United Methodist Church on October 20. If you’re in the neighborhood, we hope you’ll join us!