Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
I have always had a heart for children. Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven belong to them. He holds them in high esteem. But so many today do not. We see children as a distraction. They get in the way of our plans. They make things so much more difficult. They are unimportant. But that simply is not true. In Matthew 18, Jesus tells us to be like children. He never tells the little children to act more grown up, to stop playing around, to sit still. No, he tells the grown ups to act more like children. Particularly, in the way in which we worship. I have always enjoyed watching children worship. They don't care what is going on around them. They just have to move. They experience the music with their whole body. They are so moved that they cannot sit still and listen, their whole bodies have to join them in worship. And when they know the words to the song they can't help but SING. I love when the little kids sing with all their hearts, yelling from the top of their lungs. They are completely unaware of what is going on around them because their focus is on worshipping.
Something happens as we get older. We become self-conscious and start worrying more about what others around us will think then what our Maker thinks. We become more concerned with what we are getting out of church then what we are bringing to church. Suddenly, Sunday morning is about how long service went over and how that cuts into my time. We care more about what we get out of the service than how we are worshipping God through the service. Somewhere along the way, church stops being about God and starts being about me.
There are so many reasons that we have chosen to keep our four year old in service with us. But the biggest reason is because he matters to God. He's important. God does not push him aside. God welcomes him to His table and I never want him to feel rejected by God or His people. When I see my son dancing during the singing it brings me so much joy. I think it's a little glimpse of what Heaven will be like. He is filled wish so much joy and excitement. He loves listening to the songs and he can't help himself, he has to move. And when the offering basket is passed he gives his little coins so willingly and cheerfully. I worry about getting the basket passed to the next person quickly, but he wants to talk about what he's doing. "I have to put the coin in here, Mommy?" "This money goes to God?" "What is God going to do with my money?" "Look Mommy, I'm putting my coins in here."
There is no doubt that the hardest part of keeping him in the service is during the sermon. He's a typical four-year-old. It's hard for him to sit still. He doesn't understand much of what is being said. He has lots of questions. It's hard. I spend so much of the sermon talking to him, telling him to be quiet, sit still, explaining things to him, answering questions, reading the Bible with him, etc. I honestly miss probably at least 60% of the sermon because I'm distracted by him. But he's worth it. He has real questions. He wants to know why Sarah laughed when God told her she would have a baby. He doesn't understand that she would just believe what God said. He wants to know why Jesus had to die on the cross. Why did the men want to hurt him? He hears what the pastor is saying. He reads the story in his Bible. I have to explain a lot to him. But in my explaining I am also learning a lot. His questions are so real and genuine, questions that I am afraid to ask myself. Things that I just read past and don't even think about. Things that I just accept without even thinking why or how.
I know my son is a distraction sometimes, but he's learning. He sees me and my husband and other adults he knows coming to church every Sunday. He sees us singing songs in worship. He sees us liftting others up in prayer. He sees us reading our Bible and listening to the pastor's teaching. But most importantly, he sees us accepting him and teaching him. He sees that he is loved by his church family. He sees that he is important in God's eyes. And me? I feel like I get to experience just a little bit what it will be like in Heaven someday when all ages join together and sing and dance and praise God with uninhibited joy. When together none of us will care about what is going on around us because we will be all-consumed with praising Jesus. And He will welcome each of us with open arms just as we are.