By Jasmine Timm
I was at a minor league baseball game with my husband one summer when I noticed a pattern. At every game, a frenzy of kids would crowd behind the dugout, hoping one of them would be the one to catch the much-sought-after foul ball. And at every game, a much older guy would catch the foul ball, unaware of the group of eight year olds who desperately wanted what he had. My husband informed me that it’s common courtesy at a minor league baseball game to hand over the foul ball to a dejected kid, but despite this unspoken rule, at least one older guy will hinder a kid from the joyful experience of obtaining a foul ball.
Moments like this make us aware of how easy it is for us adults to overlook how we might be hindering children from experiencing joy. We can become so wrapped up in the moment or distracted by what is going on in our lives that we miss opportunities to bring joy to the children around us. If we aren’t actively seeking the joy of children, we may be unintentionally hampering their growth.
In Luke 18, we see this dilemma unfold. Jesus’ well-meaning disciples rebuke a group of mothers for letting their children run up to Jesus. In the view of the disciples, Jesus is a very busy man with very important things to do, and He cannot be bothered by children. But Jesus’ reaction is very strong. He reprimands the disciples for scolding these mothers, saying:
“Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).
Jesus is angered as the disciples hinder these children, for Jesus desires for these children to share in the joy of heaven. The kingdom of God belongs to them also. Jesus came not only to save hard-hearted adults, but also little children. He not only purchased our joy, but theirs, and our joy as adults is incomplete if we do not allow children to partake in the delight of knowing and worshipping Jesus. He desires for His adult followers to actively seek this for children, to not hold them back from coming to Jesus. Charles Spurgeon puts it this way:
His heart was a great harbor wherein many little ships might cast anchor. Jesus, the child-man, was never more at home than with children. The holy child Jesus had an affinity for children. Was he to be represented by His own disciples as shutting the door against the children? It would do a sad injury to His character. Therefore, grieved at the triple evil which wounded the mothers, the children, and Himself, He was sore displeased. Anything we do to hinder a dear child from coming to Jesus greatly displeases our dear Lord. He cries to us, “Stand off. Let them alone. Let them come to Me, and forbid them not.”
So often as adults we become so wrapped up in our own spiritual growth that we neglect to provide equal opportunity for the children around us. They are too little, we suppose, or not yet ready to pursue spiritual things, so we settle on entertaining them 24/7 rather than nudging them to participate in the joy of Jesus. At times we all are guilty of this whether they are our own children or the children of other people who we get to interact with.
It is a tall task to ask a parent, or any person for that matter, to perfectly attend to their child’s needs, to single-handedly increase their joy. That is one of the many reasons God has graciously supplied us with the Church. His body of believers helps us to meet not only our needs but also the needs of our children. The famous saying applies here that it takes a village to raise a child. To raise a child of God, it takes a village, the Church. God does not condemn us for being unable to single-handedly attend to all of a child’s needs. He does not expect us to operate alone off our own strength, but gives us the help of other believers to disciple the children in our midst.
On both Thursday mornings and evenings during women’s Bible study this fall, our goal is to support your children by feeding them God’s Word and nudging them into the arms of Jesus. We do not want to hinder them, we do not want to simply entertain or babysit them, and we do not want to rob them of the joy that is theirs in Jesus. We want to work together as the body of Christ to increase their delight in Him. So, on Thursdays, our aim is to support your child’s growth by exposing them to the same Bible we will be reading as women. We will provide teaching and activities that take them through age-appropriate lessons on the book of Joshua. Our goal is to make your job as a parent, or discipleship partner, easier by working with you to introduce them to the glorious person of Jesus. As we learn of God’s glory in the book of Joshua, our children will also be participating in the joy of learning of our Creator and Savior.
So, we ask for your partnership and prayers as we seek to support the growth of your children. We want to be a body that loves children by helping them see how lovely Jesus is. We ask for your help in preparing your child to focus their hearts on this wonderful God who loves children in all their messiness. We will play, we will have fun, but most importantly, we will make it a priority to communicate to our children the joy they get to share in with us. Jesus invites them to come as they are, and as His Church, we can do Him great honor by welcoming them in and giving them the same level of privilege that we’ve been given by our Lord. Let’s not keep the “ball” to ourselves, but gladly share it with our children.
Elementary Girls invited to GEMS
Another way UFC is coming alongside parents in the discipleship of their children is through the monthly, after-church club for girls called GEMS — Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior. This club is on a mission to help bring girls into a living and dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. GEMS is committed to exemplifying and speaking the life-changing truth that girls are loved, known, and matter to God.
This year’s theme verse is from I John 3:1, which says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
The GEMS club curriculum was developed to help girls understand that they are LOVED by God. Period! From the fullness of God’s love, girls can discover their true identity in Christ.
The club is for girls in kindergarten through fifth grade and will meet once a month on Sundays at the Barn from noon to 1:30 p.m. The first two meetings of the school year will be September 22 and October 20.
The girls and their leaders eat lunch together, sing songs, play games, do crafts, and participate in other fun activities. The annual fee is $20 per girl.
The leaders this year are Joy Strasser, Ebba Corleto, Aly Arel, Jordan Mende, Rachel Gragg, Elizabeth Erwin, and Mary English. Please email Joy at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to register your daughter.
— Ebba Corleto