(14.) Receiving the Children

(14.) Receiving the Children

(14.) Receiving the Children.

What did Jesus mean when, after taking up a child into his arms, he said that whoever welcomes, whoever receives, one of these little children in his name in fact welcomes him? (Mark 9:36-37). It would take a lifetime to plumb the depths of his statement, but it’s almost as if Jesus might be saying:

Here’s the bottom line, people… I love children. I knit every one of them together, strung together their DNA, wired each nervous system. I gave the first breath of life to each and every one! I invented each personality, fashioned each child from scratch, and then danced a jig to celebrate every birth. And so I designed each child to represent much of what is true of my Kingdom: simple and transparent, playful and straightforward, relational and curious, zealous and dynamic, dependent and vulnerable.

Children, all of them in general and each one in particular, are my pride and joy. Unfortunately, each prize package is also vulnerable in this fallen world of mine. So they have my heart, and I have their back.

I’m like any good parent, only more so. I take personally whatever happens to them, as if it happens to me. I’m like the mom who screeches “ouch” when her child falls on the sidewalk. I’m like the dad who basks in the moment when his child succeeds at something after hard work and sacrifice. So when a little ragamuffin kid is received with kindness and respect, I take it personally, and I feel like I’m being received that way too.

When parents graciously open their home to be blessed with a child – as an act of faith and trust – they had better set an extra plate at the table for me. When schools welcome students into their classrooms as honored guests made in my image, they’d better get an extra desk for me. Whoever welcomes a child, welcomes me, the Lord of children.

Yahweh becomes a household name whenever love for children is a natural outgrowth of love for me, be they sick or healthy, athletic or awkward, academic or imaginative, passive or exuberant, a rock star or someone who is easily lost in the shuffle. I’m like this with anyone who is vulnerable, with a person of any age who is overlooked or undervalued. Whenever the underdogs are welcomed for my sake, I take it personally.

You know what? I know what if feels like. I was once an unknown child. I was once considered a fool and a misfit. I was misjudged and marginalized, criticized and belittled. So by all means, by every means, welcome my children into your hearts in my Name of Love, and you will find that you’d better open your arms a little wider, because I’m right there with you. Make room for me, too.