Within our world, too many times we see children as mouths to feed, diapers to change and pretty much a drain of recourses and time. In Jesus’ day, it was much the same. How many times when growing up did you hear the statement, “Children are to be seen and not heard!” In this kind of world, children have no say in what happens to them. They are totally dependent upon adults for everything, including food, shelter, and clothing.
During Jesus’ day, the disciples were pushing children and their parents away. Jesus upon seeing this was greatly disturbed by the adult’s actions. He told his disciples and others nearby who were keeping the children from him to stop and let them come near. Matthew 18:2 tells us that Jesus called the little children to him and then looked up to the adults nearby and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” This is how Jesus saw children, and not necessarily how we as adults see them. He not only viewed children this way, he asked that we become like them. When children play, they many times mimic adults in their games. It is a child’s form of work, but with the fun factor included. This does not mean that we as adults should play all day and walk away from responsibility, but that we look at our surroundings through new eyes.
You have heard some individuals say that they haven’t worked a day in their lives because they have enjoyed the work that they do. Somehow, many of us adults have forgotten how to have fun, and at the same time accomplish the tasks before us. So much of the time, we go through the day and look at it as drudgery all the while waiting for the weekend to have fun, or for that matter, even until retirement. When the time for fun is allowed by us to take place, we have been in the trenches of despair with our jobs and lives for so long that when this time comes, we have completely forgotten how to have fun.
Many times, adults look at the sadness in their lives and blame it on their circumstances such as jobs, location, or even those people around them. I believe Jesus is trying to tell us that life is more than seeking the elusive rainbow around the corner. Many times, it isn’t what a child has that makes them happy, it is what is before them that they see as the potential for happiness. Taking our eyes off of what might be, to that of seeing what is, and finding joy in our surroundings. If we take the time to watch children and how they meet the day, perhaps we as adults can learn from them. William Wilberforce was a person with great influence in the British Parliament and was influential in gaining the freedom for African slaves in England. As influential as Wilberforce was, he would leave a meeting of prominent men to run out and play with his children when they beckoned him. This confounded his peers very much, but over time Wilberforce’s example helped other influential lawmakers to see another perspective towards children, their value and importance.
In this time of restrictions and confinement, perhaps we too can learn from our children and rediscover life through the eyes of a child. “Father, help us to see our lives as you do, so that we may live a completed life filled with joy, excitement, and with the heart of a child.”