How to Love Children
By: Christy Lee
Many of you were inspired by Sunday’s sermon to answer the charge to love the children of this church and Fremont. For some of us, this does not come naturally. Since the Bible tell us to love children as Jesus did, surely it teaches us how as well?
Unsurprisingly, our best example of how to love children comes from Jesus himself. I think the best example of how to love children comes from Christ’s life on earth, in what we call his “condescension”. The act of God putting on human flesh and coming to live on earth is often referred to as his “condescension” (not to be confused with the word “condescending”, which means to talk down to someone in a degrading manner. Actually, Jesus’ condescension was the opposite of that!) Here are a couple thoughts about how Jesus loves us and how we can love his children, old and young:
1. Jesus entered into our world: God put on flesh and descended into our world, subjecting himself to the harsh realities of this life on earth. He didn’t love us from afar, from heaven like he could have. Instead, he entered into our mess so personally because he loves us and he knows us. This is the same for loving God’s children. The easy thing to do is to love children from afar, appreciating the times when they sing for the church or maybe even donating supplies and resources once in a while. The harder thing to do is enter into the world of children, interacting with them on “their level” and seeing the world from their perspective. This takes time, energy, and effort! It also takes empathy. To enter into the world requires a personal connection and entering into someone’s world.
2. Jesus humbled himself: In Christ’s condescension, he humbled himself. He is God, almighty, all knowing, and all powerful. He does not need us! He had everything he needed in heaven. Yet he decided to be born in a manger, raised as a humble carpenter’s son, ultimately to die a criminal’a death. In this, Jesus taught us that loving others requires humility and sacrifice. To really love children in particular takes a sacrifice of time, resources, energy, pride, and patience. Perhaps it looks like wearing a silly costume and dancing around with kids at VBS. Perhaps it maybe even looks like preparing for a Sunday school lesson, simplifying complex theology so that kindergartners can understand it. Humbling our hearts, bodies, and mind are all necessary sacrifices for loving God’s little ones well.
3. Jesus loved us as we are: When we were still sinners, Christ loved us. Jesus loved the tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners. And his love transformed people. People didn’t change because they were simply scared of hell or wrath. They changed their lives because they were so amazed by Jesus’ love for them. In the same way, it is easy to approach children as projects, trying to modify their behavior to become better listeners, bible memorizers, or whatnot. But Jesus shows us that behavioral changes are secondary. The first thing he did was love us, because he knows us and cares for us. Children need to be known and cares for for who they are, not who we want them to be.
If you notice, these principals are not only true for children, but also for loving others in general. Love is more than a feeling: love is hard work! But friends, there is grace in Jesus. We will fail constantly in our efforts to be better lovers of children and our neighbors. But in our failures and victories, we look to Jesus condescended himself to be with us and to love us. He loved us so much that he ultimately died for us. In his death and resurrection, he gives us the power and forgiveness to love others well too.