Kids & the Kingdom

By: Landon Collins

Three days a week I drive our youngest daughter Lydia to Chestnut Grove Preschool. Every time we get in the car, she yells, “BIBLE SONGS, BIBLE SONGS”. Three days a week for 16 minutes, we listen to all the old bible songs for kids. There is one song called Let the little Children come. It’s based on Mark 10:13-16 where Jesus gets upset at the disciples for trying to keep the kids away. If you’re curious about the song, take a listen. Now you know what music I listen to on a regular basis. I was reading this passage in Mark the other day, which is pretty familiar to some, and I began thinking about all the different reasons Jesus would say, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” For some kids, it’s really easy to understand why Jesus would use them as an example. However, I can think back on some of my experiences with kids, especially my own, and wonder what Jesus was thinking.  So here are some obvious and maybe not so obvious lessons we can learn from Kids about how to fully experience God’s Kingdom.

Lydia wore her princess Elsa Halloween costume to the mall the other day.IMG_1563

She doesn’t care Halloween is a week away. She doesn’t care that you aren’t “supposed” to wear princess dresses to the mall. Why am I more worried about her outfit than she is? I think it’s because I have learned the fashion rules and wearing a princess dress to the mall is like wearing white before labor day, you just don’t do it. I apply these rules to the mall and unfortunately, I apply the same rules to the Kingdom of God. I can often be concerned about “looking” right. But kids don’t care what you’re supposed to wear, they just want to wear the clothes they love and enjoy life to the fullest. That’s probably closer to the abundant life that Jesus offers. Maybe kids know that the Kingdom of God isn’t about looking right, or saying the right things, but is more about participating in a dynamic, life-giving relationship with Jesus. (John 1:35-51)

It seems like kids know how to accept grace far better than we adults do. Lydia doesn’t yet understand the concept of grace, but she does understand when she does something wrong. She also understands shame, and I hope she understands my love for her. Sometimes it’s like she has no long term memory, because only a few minutes after getting in trouble, and clearly understanding her actions, she’s right back saying “I love you daddy” and playing with me as if nothing happened. I wish I was that good at accepting grace from God. I tend to carry guilt and shame a lot longer than many kids do. Maybe kids know that when God forgives us, He really does forgive us, and there is no room for shame and guilt as we participate in God’s Kingdom. (John 3:17)

I have had the privilege and joy of coaching Liam’s soccer team for the past five seasons. I say joy and I mean it… most of the time. If Jesus had coached little league soccer I wonder if He still would have made this comment about kids and the Kingdom. I’ve watched kids push each other, say mean things to each other, and completely ignore me when I’m trying to point them in the right direction to score a goal. I have, far more often, watched kids play with each other without caring how they were separated by schools and classes, without caring what kind of shoes they are wearing, who their parents are, whether they had a big house or small house, whether they would in twelve years vote Republican or Democrat, or whether they are good at soccer or if they still had some work to do. It’s beautiful to watch kids playing together isn’t it? Perhaps there is something to learn from kids on a soccer team even when they don’t listen to a word I say. Maybe kids know that participating in God’s Kingdom means we don’t see people as blurry trees. (Galatians 3:28)

Maybe Jesus really did know what he was talking about when he said, “these children are at the very center of life in the Kingdom.”(Mark 10:14, The Message)  I really don’t like listening to those “Bible Songs” in the car. However, I find myself paying attention to some things in Scripture that I might not pay attention to if my daughter wouldn’t yell out from the back seat. And the more I pay attention, the more lessons I learn. And the more I pay attention to the things Jesus said pay attention to, like children, the more I learn about abundant life in God’s Kingdom.

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