Have you ever taken your children to play at a playground, or have you ever observed children at play with one another in a similar situation?
The one thing that most people notice right away is how easily most children can form relationships with other children whom they just met. How quickly these friendships grow is admirable. When was the last time you made a friend as quickly as a child? Sometimes we can make friends that quickly as adults, but most of the time we take precaution in opening up to others.
Somewhere along the line we’ve grown cautious and guarded when it comes to allowing people to get to know us.
Kids, though, don’t have the same amount of baggage that we carry. Of course, there are real and serious problems that have led to this defensiveness some of us have, but children don’t seem to dwell so much on their past pains as much as on what’s happening currently.
That, as well, is an admirable quality. For us as adults though, it’s easier said than done.
Another observation about children at play is that they make friends with anyone–of any ethnicity, color, or physical characteristic. Children are curious at the differences between themselves, but those differences do not usually drive a wedge between the children and their desire to play and get along. Simply put, children do not care what ethnicity or belief other children carry. They only desire to get along with one another and play a game.
There’s much we can learn about Christ and our relationships with others through children. Christ loved children a lot. We all have heard, and maybe even spoken on, the verse where the disciples try to shoo some children away but Christ says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14 ESV).
What a powerful statement about people that are so dependent on other, more mature people.
We can learn a lot from children about how we are to act with one another, but we unfortunately teach them how to be racist, bigoted, and evil towards one another. What if we took a careful study of how we act around children and what we teach them? What will we find? Will we find that we teach them proper ideals or will we find that we teach them to hold some prejudice towards others different from themselves?
Sadly, the latter almost always proves itself to be true.
Instead of taking these beautiful creations unsullied with human prejudices and dirtying them with our version of who is good and bad, we should take some time to learn from these little children whom Christ says obtains the “kingdom of heaven.”
David, in worship, declared that, “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2 ESV). When we grow older and more prejudiced towards one another, we need the purity of children to reign us back in to a proper understanding of how we were created to be. What a wonderful thought. And what a Kingdom thought.
In Matthew 18, the chapter before the verse that we first read, Jesus lays out a simple but profound message about what we can gain from children:
2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 ”Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
How many children have been turned from a proper understanding of Christ and relationship by adults who have their own prejudices? Probably most, if not all, of us have perpetuated this depravity in some form or another.
So what do children teach us about multiethnic relationships?
- They teach us that there is purity in the now. We may have been hurt yesterday, but what matters is how we approach today.
- They teach us to not see each other through a lens of prejudice, but in the simple lens of unity.
- They teach us to be vulnerable with one another. To cry when we need to and to shout and act crazy with joy when we need to.
In this simple, childlike faith, we see the Kingdom of God manifest in society.
There are sure to be many more instances of how children teach us the Kingdom of God in the here and now. What are some ways you’ve learned from your children?