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Relating to Children

Jesus’ words in Mark 10:13-16 show us that relating correctly to children is a priority in his Kingdom, not a sideline issue. Problems in relating to children happen when Jesus is not in the picture. Before Jesus’ intervention: the disciples, who were supposed to be leaders, were getting it wrong about the place of children; the parents (or whoever else was bringing the children) were being given the wrong doctrine about the place of children by the actions of the disciples; and the children were being hurt by not being given their place. When Jesus intervenes, everything is put right.

1 Disciples – Leaders Getting it Wrong

  • Leaders can be wrong about the place of children because of:-
  • Self-centredness – a wrong sense of their own importance (illustrated in Mark 9:33).
  • Intellectual snobbery – expressed in the attitude, “Children can’t understand these things.”
  • Spiritual heresy – expressed in the idea that relating to God personally is for grown-ups only.
  • Devilish values – expressed in the idea that the younger someone is, the less notice you need to take of them (this is the same as the spirit of abortion).
  • Jesus corrects leaders about the place of children, by saying, “Let the children come” which signifies a change of heart, and “Do not forbid them” which signifies a change of action.
  • Steps to correction:-
    • Consider the mistakes that can be made.
    • Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any instances of where you have been guilty.
    • Confess these – it is helpful to clarify them by writing them down.
    • Apply the truth of 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins to God, he will forgive our sins and make us clean from all our wrongdoing.”
    • Destroy the written confession.
    • Allow God to change your heart.
    • Resolve to change your actions – to avoid denying children their place in future.

2 Parents – Being Given Wrong Doctrine

  • We can be wrong about the place of children because we have been given faulty teaching about them. We may have suffered from these wrong doctrines when we were children. If they have not been brought to our attention we may be still passing them on in our words, attitudes, and actions.
  • We can be wrong about the place of children by accepting the heresies that:-
  • Children are just a group to be taught. Jesus corrects this heresy by saying, “Let the children come to me.” He did not say, “Let the children learn about me.”
  • Things are ‘on hold’ with children until they grow up. Jesus corrects this heresy by saying, “the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
  • If children are going to have spiritual experiences, then they ought to behave like adults. Jesus corrects this heresy by taking them up in his arms. He did this with children, not with adults, because what is appropriate for one is not appropriate for the other.
  • Adult experience is more authentic than children’s experience. Jesus corrects this heresy by placing his hands on children and speaking blessing individually to them.
  • Our (limited) experience is the best basis for deciding how things should be with children. Jesus corrects this heresy by rebuking the disciples for making such a judgement, and getting it so wrong.
  • Steps to correction:- We want to be free from the effects of these heresies in our own lives, and also the influence they have had and are having in our relationships with children. In order to free ourselves, our families and our churches from these attitudes, we can declare our rejection of them, by saying out loud, “In Jesus’ name we reject the doctrine that… [e.g. Children are just a group to be taught].”

3 Children – Hurt by the Actions of Others

  • Children can be hurt by not being given their right place. Until Jesus intervened, the children were being prevented from having a special experience, and if they had been left with just the disciples’ words, they could have suffered long-term hurt. When negative things have happened to us when we were children, the effect of these experiences can not only continue to restrict or harm us, but can also affect our ability to relate properly to children now. If the children had been prevented from coming to Jesus, they would have been affected in ways that may have happened to us when we were children:-
  • Being excluded, left out, kept on the edge. To minister to those who experienced this as children, put them in the middle of a circle with others all around laying hands on them, ‘pushing them into the centre’ and affirming them of their place with Jesus and in his purposes.
  • Being disappointed, having crushed expectations and unfulfilled dreams. To minister to those who experienced this as children, have a number of people pray over each one and prophesy to them, using words of Scripture, or other pictures or words from the Holy Spirit.
  • Being sad, being denied the normal joys of childhood, missing the fun. To minister to those who experienced this as children, let them enjoy some fun in your ministry to them. Expect the Holy Spirit to minister to them through something like a fun praise song – with actions or dance.
  • Being unhugged, missing out on having affection shown, being uncertain about being loved and accepted. To minister to those who experienced this as children, get three or four people to surround each individual and together to hug them with the expectation that through this they will experience Father’s love for them.

Jesus said that he came to bring us life in all its fullness (John 10:10). Jesus is totally committed to make up completely for every hurt, loss or damage that has been caused in our lives by ourselves, others, the Devil, or by the circumstances of life.

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