I don't know how you spend your weekends, but grandchildren usually play an important role in the weekend schedule for Rita and myself. We spent time with Erin (our two-year old granddaughter) on Friday, then took Noah (our seven-year-old grandson) to the football game on Friday night where our 17 year old granddaugher, Kayla, was in the half-time show. Noah spent the night and we took him to his soccer game on Saturday morning. Tomorrow we plan to have lunch with our 19-year-old grandson, Bryan. OK, I'll spare you the pictures, but you get the idea--children and grandchildren are important to us.
This was brought home to me this morning when our pastor, Mike Smith, preached on Luke 9:46-50 where Jesus attempts to settle an argument among his disciples about "who will be the greatest" by bringing a small child to his side. Mike pointed out that in Jesus' day, grown men ignored children in public settings. It just wasn't done! So Jesus' action was particularly surprising as he pointed out the value of one of the least in society by identifying himself with the child.
As I looked out over the congregation, I noted children sitting with their parents, one father holding his daughter in his lap, and a little boy cuddling up next to his mother. Certainly this says something about the value we have come to place upon our children. To cap it off, three youngsters made public professions of faith at the close of the service!
Children are important to us as Christ-followers. I admit that there are times when the emphasis may get out of balance. We've come a long way from the "children should be seen and not heard" approach of a previous generation. We are much more aware of the potential inherent in each child and the importance of encouraging them to develop their abilities and gifts. As a result, we invest time in their education and nurture, both in the church and elsewhere.
But think about this in light of the text Mike used this morning. First, we value children not just because of what they may become, but because of what they are. Although least in the kingdom, they are important in and of themselves. Each child has intrinsic value in the sight of God. Second, we must recognize that not all children are valued, even in our supposedly enlightened society. Some struggle just to survive. What are we doing to help such children?
Whatever we invest in children--either our own or others--is well worth the effort. It is part of our God-given calling.