Posted By Tiffany on September 5, 2010
At church on Sunday morning, one of our elders, while giving his sermon, asked if there were any little children who would like to come up to the front of the church and tell everyone something they know about God. Getting up in front of our large church and speaking would be scary enough as an adult, considering the nearly 1,000 people present at any given Sunday morning late service, but I couldn’t imagine how intimidating everything would be to a small child.
But, sure enough, even though most children were off in Sunday school or the other church programs, one six-year-old boy was present and eager to speak. He took the microphone and immediately began quoting a passage from the book of Isaiah.
As he went on and on, flawlessly repeating and barely stopping to take a breath, the audience was silenced and almost dumbstruck. I knew what they were thinking–what we all were thinking. We underestimate the capacities of our children.
As Psalm 8:2 rolled around in my mind–”From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger”–I wondered how often we tend to overlook or underestimate the spiritual capacities of children.
After teaching Sunday school for seven years to 2-4 year olds, I can attest to the fact that Christian parents often do. Time after time, parents would downplay their child’s understanding as they spoke to me, or comment negatively about their child’s ability to learn the Bible at a young age. I had kids in my class who didn’t even know what a Bible was or looked like–and these were the children of what I would consider to be the foundational families of the church, not new-comers or visitors!
But as this little boy on Sunday continued to quote his chapter from Isaiah, my belief that a child’s spiritual capacities can go deeper were reaffirmed. Children are sponges ready to learn and soak up what is around them. Their developing brains are especially suited to being taught. They are ready to learn what you teach them, whether it’s not to cross the street alone, or that God’s grace has covered our sins through Christ’s sacrifice.
The Bible is not “too hard” for them or unable to be grasped by their little minds. No child is too young to hear God’s Word. Though a child isn’t going to be thinking through a passage like we would–in terms of sanctification, anthropomorphisms, predestination, and the like– he can still get something out of it, and God can use it despite his rudimentary and simple understanding.
The faith and love that children can be exemplary; there’s a reason that Christ tells us to be like children and welcomed them into His arms:
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”~Matthew 18:1-4
“Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.” ~Matthew 19:
Teaching our children about the Word and God’s ways is of utmost importance. We must think beyond ourselves, today, and the present, and be faithful to cultivate and encourage the next generation of believers. Though as Americans we may think in terms of individual lifetimes and our own specific little homes and families, as Christians we must look beyond that and think of God’s overarching plan. That’s why, as I’ve written before, I try to think about how my decisions today will affect my great-grandchildren and beyond.
When the little boy stepped down from the stage on Sunday, the elder, with happy tears in his eyes said, “That made my day,” and I agreed, because it had made mine, too. I couldn’t help smiling from ear to ear at this demonstration of the Word being hidden in a young person’s heart!
This article originally appeared on Tiffany’s blog True Femininity