Let the Children Play

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’.”-Matthew 19:14

I have become that parent that gets nervous when my child starts to cry. Even though I joking tell him to use his words to tell me what is going on, I know he is just a baby and that he cannot express his wants his wants and needs in this way. I have also become more observant of people staring or doing the quick glance of fear and trepidation when he even makes a simple “ugh” noise waiting for the siren to sound. I get a little worried that I am disturbing others and I quickly want to stuff a pacifier in his mouth and just smile, wave, and apologize profusely while bowing and walking backwards out a door. How wrong am I to feel this way?

Then, I noticed people with children at church the other day;  the children were older, but still children hanging out on their seats during the praise part of the service. The kids were playing, writing things down, and sometimes speaking loudly back and forth while trying to get their parent’s attention showing off their doodles and the parents were visibly getting nervous. I could see them trying to bat the kids hands down or whispering, “That’s nice, but we’re trying to sing” or “sit down, quit jumping on the other kids head and making monkey noises” (ok, that didn’t happen, but the way they were getting nervous their child might as well have been).

The sad thing is; this feeling should never have come over these parents or even me… ever. Kids are going to be kids and they will make noises. Over time they do need to learn the right time and situations for making noise, but sometimes I wonder if Church is not necessarily the place for that to happen. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be respectful of people’s time of prayer and praise, but should there be a sense of nervousness or fear that comes in the hearts and minds of the parents trying to do the same thing? Nope, I don’t think so. I am not saying my church puts that sense in their attendees; in fact, it is quite the contrary, but for some reason that sense is there. All I can say is, sad, so sad.

Jesus clearly wanted the children to come to Him. You want to know how I know, He said it! In Matthew 19:13-15 we find Jesus’ disciples getting upset that kids were being brought to Jesus. Jesus said “Don’t block these children from hanging out with me” (New International Bobby Version). Those kids were probably goofing off a bit, tugging at their parent’s tunics or robes asking why that guy with the beard wants them to sit on His lap, or even crying a bit. However, Jesus still wanted them next to Him.

We even sing the song lyrics “Jesus loves the little children” and last I checked it didn’t say “only if they stay quiet and respect the worship time in church”. He wants the kids to make noise. He wants them to feel welcome. He definitely doesn’t want parents to be hindered in their worship while trying to avoid being looked at funny. Let the kids play. Let them enjoy their time together. Remember, they are in fellowship too. As for babies, well, they’ll cry. If you don’t like it, I am sure there is some good church on TV. A baby’s cry, means it is alive, and God is blessing the parents to raise another beautifully and wonderfully made piece of work. Parents, don’t feel nervous, let the children do what they do, but in certain situations (you know when), remove the children if it is absolutely necessary. If not, keep bringing the children to Jesus.
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