What you believe about people in general and specifically about children is important.
I am thinking about children this week because it is Vacation Bible School week in our church. For several weeks, from the beginning of decorating to the end of follow up, we make everything in the church center on kids. All of this special attention to children reflects a theological perspective that says they are important.
It is easy to see that Jesus thought children were important, by the statements He makes in regard to kids. For example, He says it would be better for a man to be drowned than to face the judgement from making a child stumble. (Luke 17:1-4)
But the question I want to ask this morning is, why are children important?
I believe children are important because of the way in which growing up impacts the decision making capability of adults. This is why, in the passage named above, Jesus spoke of making kids stumble. He could have used other phrases to indicate harming children or causing them pain, but He instead chose wording which addressed hindering their progress.
This is important because the way a child is raised can determine if they will ever be open to accepting Christ as Savior. It can determine whether they are predisposed towards obeying the law or breaking it. Jesus knows that events in childhood shape the nature of the adult.
But beyond this rather obvious truth, I also believe many people will only have the child like faith needed to trust Christ when they are children. If we do not handle them correctly at this age, then they will never again consider the opportunity to know and serve the Lord.
The worldly perspective on raising children often gets this backwards. They put a great deal of emphasis on protecting kids from physical pain, but pay very little attention to the influences put on them.
Society has decided that discipline through pain is always wrong. I am glad I didn’t grow up today. I think I would be less of a man now if I had not received a few spankings then. The world will ignore my testimony, and the opinions of thousands of others like me, in favor of raising undisciplined kids.
What they pay little attention to, is who influences kids and in what direction. Ideas that are likely objectionable to parents are taught to children without oversight. These lessons come from public education, popular entertainment, and political activity. The world has begun to treat these sources as incontestable.
Similar to this, many assert that children cannot be influenced in meaningful ways until they become adults. This perspective results in individuals assuming they can raise kids neutrally in order to allow them to make their own decisions when they are old enough. This is too late.
The end result is we miss the only chance we have to shape adults, because we believed the wrong things about them as children.