(Disclaimer: If you didn't read Tuesdays post, you should do that first so that this post makes more sense)
And what was his (Jesus') response in that moment?
In the midst of the people’s disappointment, he broke through into that moment and said, let the children come to me.
And then he said…
“…do not hinder them”
And that is our second principle that we can grab from this moment with Jesus… Do not hinder them!
We are charged with building kingdom families. And a big piece of that is that we are to…
#2 Eliminate obstacles that hinder our children connecting with Jesus
Hindrances are anything that create a wall for our kids to experience Jesus.
And there are lots of them.
But for today, let me highlight four hindrances.
I should throw out a disclaimer here, that when our kids get older, like junior high and older… they have no problem finding and implementing their own hindrances. Our job as families and as the church is to guide and correct and be gracious and patient.
But when our kids are younger, it is often the adults, us… who create the hindrances, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Or like the disciples, they created a hindrance to the children coming to Jesus, intentionally with what they thought were good motives.
So these four hindrances that I mention, may or may not be applicable to you, but I think one or more likely could resonate with some of us, myself included.
The first hindrance is…
- How do we not put this as a hindrance?
- We are in a fast-paced, go-go-go culture with the demands for our time and our kids time being stretched in so many different directions.
- It can be tough to help our kids come to Jesus, when we aren’t personally making time to come to Jesus and we are to busy to even think about having time with Jesus.
2. Lack of Priority
- The second hindrance I will mention is “lack of priority.”
- This one goes hand in hand with busyness, but this one also speaks to where our heart is? What is important to us? What do we value for our families.
- The next hindrance has to do with being passive
- Sometimes when it comes to helping our Kids become kingdom kids, we just lack passion for it and sometimes that can be because we just don’t have much passion for God at the moment either. It is hard to lead passionately out of something we are not passionate for.
- However, sometimes our passivity is founded in fear. Like I am going to mess up my kid if I push this God stuff to hard on them. Or I am not sure where to start helping my kids learn about God and so you kind of just keep delaying starting.
- Lastly, let me mention technology.
- Technology has completely reshaped the way we spend time together as a family and with God.
- Phones, computers, tablets, video games, social media and the internet each when used without strong boundaries have built a thick wall between our kids and the presence of Jesus. And often a wall between our kids and us.
There are lots more hindrances that we could look at and certainly we could explore these four in greater depth.
But as we have been looking at these two principles out of Matthew 19:
#1 We are to bring our children to Jesus
#2 Eliminate hindrances that prevent #1
I think it is key to acknowledge that in Matthew 19, we see the value Scripture puts on kids and the call to build Kingdom families, but I think it would be wise to take a couple more steps into Scripture this weekend and recognize that the Bible also has described for us some key tools, if we want to call them that, in our journey to build kingdom families.
The Bible asks us to do two things that I believe help us bring kids to Jesus, but also if we are diligent to do these things, then we will also eliminate hindrances as well.
I simply word it this way…
To help kids know Jesus more and to eliminate hindrances, we need to be diligent to “teach and train” our kids.
Teach and Train
Look for a moment at…
Proverbs 22:6 It says…
6 Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
We should note that the Hebrew verb translated for “train” occurs three other times in the Bible. In each of these appearances, it refers to “dedicating” houses, whether that is a house of a person (Deuteronomy 20:5) or a house of God (1 Kings 8:63; 2 Chronicles 7:5).
This Hebrew verb suggests that there is a calling for parents to actively devote or commit their kids to a Kingdom-focused path as early as possible.
This statement is not a hard-and-fast promise to parents of a perfect outcome for their kids because in other parts of the book of Proverbs it makes clear that the power of the kid’s future depends not only on the parents’ guidance but also very much on the choices the kid makes as they get older.
Now jump with me to… Deuteronomy 6:4-9
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The phrase… “You shall teach them diligently to your children” requires a couple comments.
The first is to highlight the word “diligent” and recognize that teaching and training our kids is not a one-time event… It requires a high-level of consistent care. You aren’t just trying to bang out everything your kid needs to know in a day or two but you are working hard, earnestly to try to do your best to teach and train them every day!
Let me also point out for you that the word “teach” in this passage has the meaning behind it of… “teaching with an intensity to pierce and penetrate.” It is often used to describe when a sword or an arrow penetrates its target. So, our teaching and training of our kids is to have a level of intensity and substance that it should actually penetrate into the child’s heart and mind.
What is nice about this passage in Deuteronomy is that it gives a really nice pattern for families and the church of how we can build kingdom families.
If we jump for a moment back to verse 4 and 5 in Deuteronomy chapter 6…
“…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.”
Our lives are marked by what we love. We are primarily lovers and worshipers.
You can say with your mouth all you want about what you value and what you treasure and what you stand for, but when all is said and done, you are a person driven by your loves. This is universally true. This is why Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there’s your heart.”
It’s our heart and our loves that drive us.
That’s why the command of God coming down to the people of God, is not, “Do these things, and don’t do these things,” but rather, “Work on growing a love relationship with me, because if you love me with all your heart, all your soul, all your might, then all of the rest of that takes care of itself.”
If we have any shot of building kingdom families in what ultimately will matter, it starts with us being serious about a growing love relationship with God for ourselves and then directing our kids also towards that love relationship with God.
That leads us into the second pattern
Verse 7: 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
This is the teach and train piece. This is the really practical part. If our kids are supposed to love God with all their heart, soul and might, then these are the things we do to help them.
This is the practices that you set up as a family to model for them what it looks like to love God. This is where your home is shaped by the God you say you love. This is the prayer piece, the family devotions, small group, church, serving, helping your kids discover their gifts in the kingdom of God.
The last patter, we can find in verse 9… “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
This is that outward-focused missional living, where the world sees THAT we value and treasure Christ in a way that’s compelling. It’s on our doorposts. It’s on our gates.
We build kingdom families to be outward, life sharing, light shining so that people know we love the Lord and we’re serious about him. We’re not just churchgoers, but we’ve been transformed by something. We teach our kids that their inward focus, love for God, is to be outwardly displayed and shared with others.
This pattern from Deuteronomy 6 is key because when you put it alongside the calling that we have from Matthew 19 to help our kids connect with Jesus and remove hindrances you can begin to see how building up kingdom families and kingdom kids can work.