The Children are Spiritual Beings
Children are future of a society. In fact, children are the next generation church. In many local churches the children are ignored as they are not valued. However, there is a missionary movement that emerged in recent past termed as 4/14 Window. The understanding in the West is that those who came to Christ mostly, was between the age group of 4 and 14. Now, the awareness regarding children has increased in churches, missions and theological institutions.
Angry young Christians
One young Christian did not like to attend worship service. I tried to counsel him. One time he exploded in anger: “In the Sunday service, you say – ‘all children get out’. Then when we become young; you say – ‘all grown up children stay back.’ When you want us to be out, we should be out and when you want us in, we should come in. What is this logic?” Somehow this young man has got an impression that the Sunday Church service is only for grown up ones. Children are excluded from worship. Once excluded from the community, he thought he was excluded forever. He had a hurt feeling towards the church. So, it is important to deal with children sensitively.
Children are Spiritual beings
The Bible teaches us that children are created by God Himself. Psalmist explodes in surprise and wonder: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139: 13-16) God is involved in the creation of each and every child that is born in this world. As created being in the image of God, each child is a spiritual being. So, abortion is not an option for the disciples of Lord Jesus Christ.
Spiritual sensitivity in the womb (Luke 1:39-45)
John the Baptist, when he was in the womb leaped with joy hearing the greeting of Mary, who was pregnant with Lord Jesus Christ. “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” The unborn child could hear conversations, understand and respond to the same.
Tears of a child births a nation
Moses parents were compelled to obey the edict of Pharaoh that ordered them to throw new born boys into river Nile. They obeyed the edict in a creative way. They made a basket and placed Moses in it and left it in river Nile. “Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.” (Exodus 2:5,6) Pharaoh’s daughter was moved with compassion seeing the feeble cry of Moses. Those tears moved the heart of her that changed the history of Children of Israel.
The High Priest Jehoiada mentored seven year old Joash and made him the King of Judah.(II Kings 11:21) It is not possible for a seven year old to rule a nation without divine wisdom and godly guidance and counsel. The King did well under the guidance of Johoiada, but later he was misled and became an evil king.
Miriam was a wise girl, prudent elder sister and spiritually sensitive. God endowed her with divine wisdom and courage. “His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said. 7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother.” (Exodus 2:4-8) This was not pre-mediated scripted dialogue. The girl was concerned about her small brother who may die. May be she was praying standing ashore. Certainly, her prayer was answered. Pharaoh’s daughter reached there and summoned her assistants to bring the basket and saw Moses in tears. Miriam steps near and offers her services to bring a mother to take care of the three old boy and brought their mother. God used Miriam to protect Moses who later delivers Israelites from the Egypt, a super power at that point of time.
Jesus in temple
At the age of twelve Lord Jesus went to the Temple with Mary and Joseph. However, he was deeply involved in discussion with religious leaders. (Luke 2:46-47) Parents missed him and travelled ahead. Later they came back and discovered him in the temple. Scriptural knowledge and maturity is possible at the age of 12.
Slave girl saves her tormentor (Ii Kings 5:1-14)
An unnamed slave girl in Syria shows spiritual maturity. Instead of having mind to take revenge, this girl has the attitude of forgiveness towards her tormentor Naaman. The girl was deprived of her parents, family, nation and spiritual heritage by Naaman the Syrian Captain and his army. She had every right to be angry against Naaman and could have sought his decay and death by leprousy. This girl was different that she provides a vital information that would heal her tormentor. She directs desperate Naaman to go to Elisha, the prophet of God. This missionary slave changes the life of a pagan army commander.
The small boy sacrificially and willingly gave his lunch box to Lord Jesus Christ.“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9) Giving is a spiritual task. Giving does not come naturally for human beings. People generally try to grab and not give. As a child, this boy would have loved his non-vegetarian lunch and would not have given it away simply. Being a spiritual boy he gave his precious possession to the Lord. His small contribution was the seed for one of the greatest miracles.
Children part of spiritual activity in family
Moses answered Pharaoh that the Israelites would go for worship as families including children. (Exodus 10:9) Moses rejected the suggestion that the children be left from sacrifice and worship. Also in the Passover all the family members were present including children. In Nineveh all the citizens including children fasted and prayed for three days that saved the city from destruction. (Jonah 3)
God speaks to children
Samuel is a great example, how God speaks to the children. Samuel did not even realize that God was calling him (I Samuel 3), only Eli mentored him to discern and listen to the Lord. It is amazing to see how God confides to a small child like Samuel his agony, secrets and future.
Children are spiritual and sensitive beings. They should be included as part and parcel of the Covenant Community – the Church. Ignoring them because of age is not a biblical practice. Encouraging them to participate in all spiritual activities in the home and in the Church is very much essential. Children can praise and worship; understand Scripture; participate in the family altar; give sacrificially; do the Will of God; share the Gospel message.