Saying No To Jesus-Musings from Mountains & Valleys
People were bringing even infants to Jesus that he might touch them, and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. 16 But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Luke 18:15-16
There are so many ways we say no to Jesus in America these days. And I think a lot of it is reflected in how our society approaches Jesus’s kids, which would be all of them. Childhood poverty rates did go down over the last few years, in no small part to COVID funding that is ending. But I think about the alarming statistics around mental health issues in our youth, the failure to do anything constructive about gun violence, and how often the genuine welfare of children at risk is a causality of the culture wars. Billie Holiday’s caustic observation that “God bless the child that's got his own” still applies. Finally, the “no” is found in the neglect of the spiritual needs of kids in an ever-growing percentage of homes.
Of course, it is always easier to see how “those people” say no to Jesus as opposed to how I negate God’s call on my life. Kids are of a special concern for the Lord, but Jesus is also giving us an important insight into how we enter and remain in the kingdom of God. Children represent vulnerability and openness to God, not two of my more natural dispositions, but the necessary conditions of the heart for Divine love and mercy.
As Christians we should always be concerned about the well-being of all God’s children and work towards a more just and equitable society. But during Lent, the focus is on turning the eye of justice on our own lives and souls. The disciples in the above passage serve as a warning of how well-intentioned religious folks can become obstacles to rather than conduits of grace. We need to be careful that in the name of important causes and agendas, we get in the way of people touching and being touched by Jesus.