How children can come to Jesus unhindered

“Let us be aware that Jesus also looks at the way we behave with children.” — And that was not even the most important message that Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider had to impart in the divine service he conducted in Kabwe, Zambia.

“We consider the abuse of a child to be a crime and a terrible sin. Anyone who uses a child to satisfy his desires is a sinner and a criminal, and I want to make this statement clear. As a Church, we fight against child abuse, and we support all efforts made to prevent and avoid this.”

The service on 26 September 2021 was not lacking in other clear statements either. All of them revolved around the Bible verses from Mark 10: 13–14: “Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.’”

To begin with, the Chief Apostle called upon his audience to take the children just as seriously as Jesus did. At that time, the younger generation was unimportant in terms of religious life: they were hardly able to understand the commandments, much less fulfil them, and without possessions they were not in a position to bring offerings and sacrifices on their own.

It was for this reason that the disciples had wanted to send the children away—something that Jesus prevented, as is well known. The Church leader identified several lessons in this, namely:

  • “Jesus loved the children. He loved the weak ones, He loved those who were rejected by others. He thought of each human being as a soul to be saved. He did not care if they were poor or rich, old, or young.”
  • “Salvation has nothing to do with merit, with works, or with deeds. Salvation is grace offered by God to everyone—to the poor and the rich, to the strong and the weak.”
  • “You cannot measure the love of God just by considering your condition of life on earth. You cannot say that God loves this one because He gave him a lot of money, and that He does not love the other because he is poor. The greatest sign of Jesus’ love for all of us is that He died for us, and that He offers us complete salvation.”

Then Chief Apostle Schneider called upon his listeners to take the children as their role models, just as Jesus presented them:

  • “To enter the kingdom of God, we must first become like children. We must be humble and we must be aware that we are fully dependent on God’s grace.”
  • “A child naturally trusts its parents. A child could not imagine that the parents would ever do anything bad. Let us be true children of God. We trust our Father, even if we do not understand Him.”
  • “We have to be like children: willing to learn, allowing ourselves to be taught. We need to be aware that we are not yet old enough in our faith, and that we must still grow up.”

And last but not least, Chief Apostle Schneider admonished his audience never to prevent the children from coming to Jesus. This, he said, not only applies to extreme cases such as child abuse. This already begins when adults take out their frustration on their children—for example, by scolding them harshly even when they haven’t done anything serious. “That is a sin. That is sinful behaviour.” And: “A lie is a lie—no matter whether I tell it to an adult or a child. It remains a lie and it is a sin.”

The Chief Apostle gave the following recommendations:

  • “We can prepare the way for the children to come to Jesus in the way we introduce God to them. Do not describe God to them as a Judge who will punish them. Tell them that God is love.”
  • “Tell them that you pray to God, and that He answers your prayers. Tell them about the protection of the angels, which you have experienced. Tell them also how God comforts you. Then we can encourage the children to come to Jesus.”
  • “Show them how God works instead of talking about everything that is wrong in the congregation.”
  • “And a special admonition to the ministers: every time a minister misuses his ministry, misuses his power and authority, his behaviour becomes an obstacle for the children.”

“We also want Jesus to be the future of our children,” said the Chief Apostle, addressing not only the adults, but all the members in the congregations: It is up to us to prepare the way for them, to teach them the law of God in the proper manner, to teach them to trust in God, and to help them to discover the wonderful works of God. God will bless all of the efforts we undertake in order to help our children come to Jesus and remain with Him.”

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