“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on 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. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’” (Mark 10:13-15 NIVUK)
“If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung round their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6 NIVUK)
I am fresh (!?) from a residential weekend away for Lanarkshire SU groups at Lendrick Muir. These are always exhausting but exhilarating times of sharing faith with children and young people. I count it an immense privilege to be part of the team who conduct these events. I just love those ‘lightbulb’ moments when young people suddenly understand Jesus clearly and make a commitment to Him. Each morning of our time away, the team meet to pray before the programme starts. In one of our prayer times this weekend we were encouraged to voice our motivation for volunteering at such events. And so I was reminded once again of those scriptural moments in which Jesus is interacting with children and young people. Mark 10 and Matthew 18 always come to mind at such moments.
The episode Mark mentions challenges me to ensure that nothing that I am or that I do hinders a child or young person from meeting Jesus. Indeed, it reminds me to do the opposite: to actively seek to help them to encounter Jesus. Likewise, Matthew’s gospel captures one of the strongest statements Jesus ever uttered. With a child as an example, He spoke of how His followers should treat the vulnerable and the young, the weak and the helpless. If we – as Christ’s followers – hinder rather than help them then we should “be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Strong stuff indeed.
Every so often it is good that we ask ourselves about our service and ministry: “What is my motive?” “Why do I do this?” “Does what I do draw people into faith or drive them away?” “Am I a help or a hindrance to those trying to reach Jesus?” My prayer this week is that we each come closer to Jesus and that we are the kind of disciples who make it easier for others to come closer to Jesus too.