Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jesus and children (thoughts of Newtown)

On Thursday, the day before the Newton Elementary School shootings, in which an entire kindergarten class of five years olds was massacred by a 20 year old boy, the Lord was preparing me to write about children. He was bringing to mind two precious incidents that had occurred in my life regarding children and the purity of their belief in Jesus. I prayed,  I cherished the memories, and I wrote the draft. Then I waited. Little did I know that a horrible massacre would punctuate and underscore these memories, imbuing their specialness by the heartbreaking loss of innocent life in Connecticut. I wrote more about it yesterday, the day it happened, and used scripture, here.

Jesus loves the children. They are precious to Him. Unlike in many societies where the children are not even named until age five because of the death rate, or in other societies where they are chattel, or still in others where the girls are left exposed to elements because they are an undesirable gender, Jesus cared for them uniquely as precious members of society and urged His believers to do the same.

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward." (Psalm 127:3)

God personally makes every child that ever was or is to be:

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." (Psalm 139:13-16).

The LORD sends angels to minister to the little ones:

"See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 18:10)

There is a place Jesus is preparing where all the children will be safe from dangers:

"The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them." (Isaiah 11:6).

At times like these, many Christians wonder if children who have not professed Jesus go to heaven upon their death. The biblical evidence, though implicit and not explicit, seems to say yes. In Deuteronomy and other places in the Old Testament, the word innocent is applied to children. Not that they are not guilty of sin, because we emerge from the womb as such. But that their guilt has not yet been applied to them because they cannot cognitively understand their sin via two revelations God gives us: conscience and His holiness and our sinfulness as revealed in nature. Here is an essay about it-

Do babies and others incapable of professing faith in Christ automatically go to heaven?

Two incidents in my life with children after I'd come to know Jesus stand out to me. Rather than the world's claim that children are browbeaten and brainwashed into believing in Jesus, it is actually the adults who are brainwashed and browbeaten into NOT believing in Jesus. Belief in Jesus is intuitive and pure in the children who do profess.

I work in a kindergarten as a teacher's aide. A few years ago at Christmastime, the teacher was teaching a unit on the customs of Christmas from around the world. There were two five-year-olds who had professed Christ and any believer could immediately see the difference in their behavior and their spirit compared to the kids who had not professed. Anyway, they were sitting on the rug watching a short video on the Nativity. The kids saw the part where the angel led the three wise men to the boy Jesus, and some kids began a quiet but fervent discussion about what the light actually was. Some said a star. Others said a comet. Others said a planet. The two saved children said,

"It was an angel. The angel had the light from heaven wrapped around him and the light led the wise men." All discussion stopped cold for a good ten seconds. Then it resumed, with denials of the angel idea from all the unsaved kids. The two saved kids just looked at each other from across the carpet, smiled peacefully, and put a thumbs up, nodding their belief to each other.

How many times are we told in the bible to act just that way? To tell the truth in love, gently and with meekness, fellowship with each other, not to argue, and to share the love of Jesus in peace and goodwill to men? They did, and in addition, their perception was amazing. An angel?! Why didn't I think of that? And a little child shall lead them...

In another case, I was teaching bible study to 6-to-8-year-olds at church. I always encouraged the kids to bring their bible with them. When I taught the passage we always opened the bible and read from the bible and not just the curriculum. I wanted them to get into a habit of being responsible for handling their bible in church, and in reading the actual verses for themselves (mini-Bereans).

LOL, they were young and it took a long time for us three teachers in the room to get them all opened to the same page. It was hard for them at first to find the verse and then to not lose their place while the other kids found it. But you would not believe how much zeal they exhibited in wanting to bring their bible and delighting in reading the verses for themselves. The eight year olds had an easier time of it than the six year olds. This particular evening we were studying Psalm 100.

There was one 8 year old boy sitting in front of me on the floor. He had opened verse Psalm 100:1 and he began reading it while the others were getting settled. He whispered,

"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands."

He stopped reading. He looked aside, and paused. Then he whispered to himself, "I like that. I don't know why I like it, but I do."

This is a miracle.

We don't get to see Jesus create fish and bread for thousands. We don't see Him restoring sight and making the lame to walk. We do not see Him walk on the raging sea or change water to wine. But nowadays we have the Holy Spirit. The miracle in this day and age is regeneration. The Holy Spirit is invisible, but His work is not. Seeing and hearing a boy apply truth to his heart is a wondrous thing. Watching the joy he received from reading truth in beauty while acknowledging it and honoring it, is a visible evidence of the Holy Spirit's work in a person.

Do we eagerly read, then pause? Ponder and consider? Understand and accept the Word's beauty without first having to construct intellectual reasons why? Do we accept the Spirit's work in us and proclaim it aloud? Do we accept the miracle of His living word into our hearts with peace and joy?

And a little child shall lead them.

I believe the children killed in Newtown CT are in heaven right now. As John MacArthur says, "instant heaven." As we mourn them on earth, what is Jesus saying to those children in heaven? I don't know, but perhaps the scene looks like this-

Children Coming to Jesus, by John Lautermilch
"Come my children! You must have been so scared. You're safe now. I have so much to show you!"


3 comments:

  1. This was a beautiful, heart warming post Elizabeth. I believe it will be uplifting for many who need it.

    God bless,
    Marrell

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  2. Beautiful. I know every one of those children is in Heaven. And I'm pretty sure the shooter is in Hell.

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  3. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this. It was such a comfort to us and also a praise to Him, for all the children He makes and the way their innocence is so willing to believe in Jesus! God bless you!

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