The title above is based on Jesus’ comment in Matthew 18:6 that “if anyone causes one of these little children who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Mess with kids, Jesus said, and you’re better off dead.
Strong words by Jesus to a group of adults who wanted to know “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He answered by calling “a little child” to stand before them, and in verse 4 he said, “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
And there in Jesus’ words we have the best picture of the world he’s creating, supplied for us in beautiful clarity in children. And it all boils down to humility, a quality Jesus himself had (Philippians 2:6-8), and a quality he also created in children. A child, for instance, isn’t the least bit interested in being important or great. But growing up in this world a child faces a gauntlet of stupid adults who think making a name for oneself, focusing attention on oneself, and inflicting one’s own image of self on others, are the ultimate goals of human existence.
And unfortunately, that translates into these self-obsessed adults influencing children to become the same way. Which is very dangerous ground, because in Jesus’ own words, “if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,” he deserves a concrete noose round his neck so he sinks to the bottom of the sea and drowns.
Two points for adults to take note of, then: the first being, that children naturally believe in Jesus. Jesus built that into them, as any parent soon discovers when teaching a child about Jesus. My one huge embarrassment as a Dad was holding our six year old son back from leaping over the pews in response to an altar call at a church. Running to Jesus was no problem for him, but for some weird reason it was for me (I hear echoes of Matthew 19:13-14).
The second thing Jesus warned about was causing a child “to sin” – the sin in context being the adult obsession with being important and great. It was a sin so serious to Jesus that in verse 3 he said, “unless you (adults) change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Note the word, “never.” In other words, you don’t have a future, chum, if you don’t get rid of your obsession with yourself, and especially when it’s causing children to pick up that obsession too.
An example today would be the adult obsession with gender identity, and getting children, including toddlers, all wrapped in it as well. Kids couldn’t care less about their gender identity, but adults have made them think it’s hugely important. So now kids are being focused on themselves and what they identify as, and they’re being taught that everyone else should indulge them too. No wonder they get to thinking they’re the centre of the universe, the exact “sin” Jesus warned adults not to inflict on children in Matthew 18.
In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven belongs to children.” So, to paraphrase the seriousness of Jesus in both Matthew 18 and 19, it would be, “Don’t mess with children” – or better put, “Don’t you dare try to pervert the lovely, trusting, innocent, humble nature of children with your twisted, demonic adult nonsense.”