When I read the Old Testament, one thing that seems apparent to me is that children are seen as a blessing, not an inconvenience. When God made a covenant with Abraham, He promised to bless him, give him land, and a son. If God would have gone 2-for-3 on his promise, but left out the heir part—the whole thing would have been shot. That is because children were a sign of God’s favor and a symbol of life within the family. The same concept can be seen in the book of Ruth where Boaz redeems (if you don’t see Jesus in the story of Ruth there is no hope for you) Ruth and gives her a son—Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. Prior to Boaz, Ruth couldn’t have children. This is a bad thing! For Boaz to take a barren woman is quite a risk. As a matter of fact the people probably thought he was out of his right mind. Ruth reminds us of the importance of children because through Boaz and Ruth comes King David, who in part paves the way for King Jesus.
Children are pivotal to the story of God. Through children the promises of God continued from generation to generation in the OT. Through A child, THE child Jesus Christ—the infinite become infant— salvation has come to men.
So it should be no surprise that God holds children in high esteem, even when culture depicts them as a nuisance. My wife and I do not have kids and we are constantly told, “Enjoy yourselves as long as you can.” “If you have kids you will never sleep again.” “Say goodbye to traveling once you have kids.” “Wait to have kids as long as you can. They just drain you dry of your time and money.”
Here is what really bothers me—I listen. This has not only made me want to wait as long as possible to have kids, it has also made me short and impatient with other kids. I have the tendency to see kids as an inconvenience rather than a blessing.
I am at a family get together in Branson, MO this week with my family and we are staying at an RV park. Randomly, this 8 year old girl named Kaylee takes a liking to my wife Emily. Kaylee is here for 3 weeks with herself and her grandpa, so it took about 5 minutes for Kaylee to attach herself to Emily. Kaylee immediately started calling her, “my friend” and “my Auntie.” The problem is I have been traveling a lot this summer and I wanted my wife to myself. In no time I was scheming ways to get rid of this child. She reminds me of mix between Russell from the movie UP, and Bessie from THe Mighty B.
In other words she likes to talk… a lot! In all honestly the last thing I wanted to do is entertain an 8 year old who I have absolutely no relation to whatsoever. I just wanted to be able to lay by the pool and read The Heresy of Orthodoxy in peace. Likewise, my wife works a tough job and I wanted her to be able to relax. To me she was a nuisance who was getting in my way—a problem of mine that I had to get solve by getting rid of her.
I suddenly realized that I have bought into the idea that kids are a curse. They are a kill joy who come to rob you of your time, money and freedom. My view of children is far from the Kingdom view, the view that says, “Let the little children come to me for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these [Matt 19:13-15].”
I think one of the ways Christians can live missional lives as ambassadors for Christ is to change the way we view children—yes, even ones like Russell and Kaylee. The world, America in particular tends to look down on children as joy killers and thieves of time and money. Christians should know better. Children are gifts. They embody grace, faith, and humility. They hope for things bigger than themselves and embrace the simple joys of life.
My wife was Christlike in this situation and I was not. She let Kaylee lay on her float with her, she talked to her, she ate breakfast with her (yes, we fed her), and she did not shun her. God should have seen me as a pesky nuisance, but he did not. At the expense of his one and only Son, He has brought me into His family and He has called me, “mine.”