Mark 10:13, “People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”
Growing up my dad and mom were very consistent in teaching by example the great importance of God in our daily lives. We thanked God before every meal, they came into our bedrooms and we prayed together every night, we never missed a weekend church service (we even rode our bikes to church once!). When we got older we weren’t allowed to play outside, watch TV, or play video games unless we had prayed and read our Bibles. As homeschoolers, daily Bible reading and journaling was a part of our curriculum.
And that was just on the home front. At church we were taught the importance of a church family, using our gift and talents on different teams (we couldn’t wait to be old enough to serve on teams!), and the value of serving God in every area of our life including tithes and offerings. There was no question growing up that God should be the most important part of your life. They worked together; the church and the family. The church reinforced the lessons taught at home, and the church brought revelation the family may not have received otherwise. The church and the family are a team.
We were taught from the time we were old enough to understand that God was the biggest part of our lives. But as I’ve grown up (and not perfectly), I began to see how easily idolatry creeps in. For some, ministry or “the call” can become the idol, for others family becomes the idol, for others self is the idol, and for others, even a person can take the place of God.
I serve in children’s ministry and I have seen family units where God is not the highest priority. Instead of church, sports events become the priority of the weekend. Instead of church, late nights mean sleeping in on Sundays. Instead of church “fill in the blank”. I’m not saying going to church is the priority, there are plenty of people who attend church every weekend but their lives are still a mess. But if a child sees that some sport is more important to the parent than spending time with God, they are going to assume that is true. If sleeping in on Sundays and lazy-daying it is more important than spending time with God, they are going to believe that. For them, growing up where sports are the family priority, that becomes their normal. As they get older they aren’t even going to know that they are in idolatry! As they get older they may know that God is the most important thing, but in their heart he is not the King. As they grow older it will be more difficult for them to deal with the pride of their hearts and put Christ where he belongs in their lives.
That’s what this is all about. The heart!
Mark 10:14 says that Jesus was indignant that the disciples kept the children from him. INDIGNANT – irate, vexed, outraged, incensed, annoyed, angry, furious. There are few moments recorded in the Bible when Jesus was outraged. Once being when the Temple was being used for trade. After Jesus had cleared the Temple the children went around singing “Hosanna to the son of David!” and Jesus said this,“From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.”
It grieves Jesus when children are denied him. If you’ve ever seen a child praise God, you know that it is beautiful. Why? Because a child isn’t bogged down with misconceptions of who God is or isn’t, they take God for who He is. If the Bible says He is good, then He is good. If the Bible says He is love, then He is Love. If the Bible says that he heals, then he is a healer. If the Bible says He wants to bless them, then they are blessed.
As a parent, you are charged with protecting that childlike faith. As a parent you are responsible for their heart; the ground that the seed grows in. You are responsible for making sure they don’t get caught in idolatry. You have to make sure they know what idolatry looks like and be an example of a true Christ follower. You have to be brave enough to confront bad behavior. You have to be consistent in showing them the goodness of God.
Hosea isn’t a book we read often, but I was reading it today and I found the most beautiful example of God’s love for us in Hosea 11:1-4, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more they were called the more they went away from me…It was I who taught Ephraim to walk; taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I lead them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them, I was like the one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.”
As a parent, I’m sure you can picture this clearly! The times you grasped your child’s grubby hands and hovered over them as they learned what their legs were for, picking up your child and feeling their chubby cheek against yours, feeding them their first bits of sugar and laughing at their delighted expressions. Your heart melted for them and still does. God’s heart melts for you in that same way. It has and always will. He wants to be the Father you idolize, just as your young children idolize you.
“I will turn the hearts of the children back to the parents, and the hearts of the parents back to their children.” Malachi 4:6
God needs you to have a revelation of Him – how can you teach your children what a good Father he is if you don’t even know? You need to learn to idolize him as a deeply loving, compassionate and patient Father so that you can model that to your kids and teach them the personality of God. Teach them who he IS. Tell them all the good things he has done. Be transparent – when you’re going through something, don’t hide it as though shamed by it, use it as an opportunity to show God’s goodness. They see you walk WITH God THROUGH difficulties, then they know who to put their anchor and trust in when it comes time for them to face storms.
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 2:6
Don’t you know that problems we see in society are just the effects of the issues in the spirit realm? Why do you think prostitution, child trafficking, and this “rape culture” are so prevalent? It’s because, in the spirit, these are the presences we are fighting. Idolatry could also be called having a “prostitution spirit”. You think idolatry is just one big thing in your life? No, it’s lots of things throughout the entire day. It’s a constant shifting of idols on and off the throne of your heart. You could be “servicing” a relationship one moment, the television the next, then you move off to some other care. And so on and so on.
We stand by and let Satan rape the innocence from our children through these idols. They go hand-in-hand. It begins with the rape and moves into prostitution and before you know it your child’s heart has been trafficked through some of the deepest atrocities that you would never have guessed. Things they were never meant to face or bear spiritually or physically. Idolatry is a constant searching for something to fill the void of God. Idolatry causes you to prostitute yourself in search of that completion and wholeness. There is nothing but God that can take that place.
You can look into a child’s eyes and know they have been witness to things their tender hearts should not have seen or heard. They already look to be carrying a burden they shouldn’t have to carry. No wonder Jesus was indignant! I am indignant just thinking about the compromised heart of a child! How dare we deny our Father a relationship with Him, how dare we stand in the way of our children and Him. We need to be aware of the example we are setting – we don’t want to be like the disciples. Whether you knew you were keeping them from knowing God truly or not – idle words, casual comments, your own tumultuous walk with God; children are sponges, they pick it all up. Which is why we can give them all the good things to soak up!
This is God whose hearts melts for us. Who wants to take you out of prostitution, who wants to restore what Satan forced from you, who wants to bring you into his arms – who wants to bring you home. If he has to teach you how to walk again, he will. If he has to teach you are to speak, he will. He will hover over your steps, though you stumble, and pick you back up. If he has to remind you again and again that you are clean and whole and no longer need to search for fulfillment, he will never stop reminding you. He will never stop forgiving or loving or having compassion. THAT is the kind of Father we have. THAT is the kind of Father we can have a relationship with. And THAT is the kind of God that your children should know. If they know the REAL God, the TRUE Father, they will never seek fulfillment from another.
So I challenge you, for your sake and your children’s sake, examine your heart. Have you denied God the throne? Have you denied God from being your Father? Have you made the mistake of teaching your children idolatry instead of faithfulness? If so, just repent. He loves you so much. Remember the picture of God in Hosea – a loving Father who wants nothing more than to cherish you as his child. Let him love you in that way, and show your children that there is no greater love than that of the Father.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38
Now that you know, ACT.