I once heard a preaching professor say, “If you’re always identifying with the hero in the story, then perhaps you’re missing the point.”
“What were the disciples thinking?” we ponder in indignant confusion. “How could they possibly want to keep the children from Jesus?” It takes no time at all for us to stand behind Jesus and point a finger at the disciples. How dare they.
Until we remember the times we’ve experienced one of Jesus’ less-desirable grown-up children and cringed. We’ve encountered someone who didn’t think like we think or act like we act or believe like we believe, and we’ve wanted to keep them as far from God’s circle of friends as possible.
Until we remember the times we’ve looked in the mirror and been so ashamed and disappointed in ourselves that we’ve desperately wanted to hide from God. We thought we weren’t good enough, not kind, patient, or forgiving enough to be truly seen and held by the One who knows us best. We thought we didn’t deserve that kind of love.
Jesus says, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs (v. 14b). The ones the disciples tried to keep away were the ones that Jesus wanted closest. They didn’t have special qualifications, polished personas, or perfect temperaments. They were just children in need of love…and aren’t we all?
Who in your world do you think doesn’t deserve God’s love? Is that person you?
Sometimes, dear Jesus, I am standing on the edge of the crowd of children. I long to be close, but I don’t want you to really see me. Help me take a step forward, trusting that you want us all as close as we can be. Amen.