Daily Riches: Those Annoying Children (Michael Card and N. T. Wright)

“Some of the Passover pilgrims who are traveling along with Jesus and his disciples to Jerusalem have brought their young children with them. They ask Jesus to do a very rabbinic thing: to lay his hands on the children and impart a blessing, a berakah . . . . His disciples, who already seem to have forgotten his last lesson about humility, try to prod the parents away. Their rabbi is too important for such trivial things. . . . [But] The children themselves are parables that need to be listened to. People will not be allowed to enter the kingdom of God unless they can enter innocently and unashamed to receive it freely.” Michael Card

“Luke emphasizes how young the babies were that people were bringing to Jesus. Jesus’ rebuke to the disciples rings out still today in a world where thousands of children are treated as sub-human, as disposable commodities. These are the ones, he says, who most truly show us what it means to accept and enter God’s kingdom. There is something about the helplessness of children, and their complete trust of those who love and care for them, which perfectly demonstrates the humble trust he has been speaking of all along. Jesus doesn’t offer a romantic or sentimental view of children; he must have known, in the daily life of a village, and through growing up as the oldest of several children, just how demanding and annoying they can be. But he sees to the heart of what is means to receive God’s kingdom; it is like drinking in one’s mother’s milk, like learning to see–and to smile!–by looking at one’s mother’s eyes and face.” N. T. Wright

“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary,
and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?
Aren’t all his sisters with us?”
Matthew 13:55-56a

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you “see” children, or are they just like “background noise?”
  • What is it that you can learn from children?
  • Can you still yourself in God’s presence, and gaze into the face of Jesus, like a child gazes into its mother’s face? Why not try this each day for a month, and see what happens.

Abba, I admit my helplessness. It is only you who can bring me into your kingdom.

For More: The Spiritual Life of Children by Robert Coles

Daily Riches: The Approachability of Jesus (Shannon Jung)

“People were bringing even infants, presumably those so young that they needed to be carried, and other children to Jesus ‘that he might touch them.’ Perhaps they had heard of Jesus’ miraculous healing powers and wanted to gain some of that for their children. However, that is partly to impose our more caring view of children onto first-century people. The literature on how children were viewed then suggests that people then did not value children very highly. Children were, in one interpretation, seen to be on the same social level as slaves: with few rights, open to abuse, and lacking protection under Jewish law. Other, more moderate views are that children were merely treated with indifference. . . . Clearly there is more than a metaphor here; there is an emotional image for us who would be disciples to imitate. There is something about Jesus that is a blessing, a hospitality, an approachability, a charisma that draws others into him. Luke the author wants us to get that image. . . . No one can merit or achieve the kingdom; it must be received without merit, as a child receives everything. . . . We, like the disciples, are to welcome as Jesus welcomed. We are to follow the example of Jesus, who called the marginal and the despised to himself. What we can do out of gratitude is to call the socially rejected to physical and spiritual life in Christ. Like the early church, we are to transform society by not just accepting but seeking out the outcasts and the marginalized. We are to treat them as Jesus did the children. . . . Ministry to, with, and for those who are on the margins is our response to God’s welcome of us. . . . What is the quality that commends children? Precisely their dependency. Their dependence on adults mirrors our dependence of God; that is one of the marks of the kingdom, which belongs to them (v. 16b). Here is exemplified the equal unworthiness, marginality and dependence of us all before God.” Shannon Jung

“Whoever does not receive
the kingdom of God as a little child
will never enter it.”
Luke 18:17 NLT

Moving From Head to Heart

  • What would a church look like that called the “socially rejected to physical and spiritual life in Christ?”
  • How would that impact it’s philosophy of ministry? . . . congregational demographics?
  • Have you ever been an outsider? Are there many socially rejected people in your congregation? . . . in your list of friends?

Abba, thank you for our approachable Jesus.

For More: Feasting on the Gospels, Vol. 2 by Cynthia Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson, eds.


Daily Riches: The Religion of Women, Children and Slaves (Kathleen Norris)

“Political power seems to corrupt religions, corroding them from within. It may be that as they age, and gain respectability in the social sphere, religions need to be brought back to the essentials of their faith and practice. It may even be that religions are at their best when they are being oppressed, or when their followers are marginalized in the culture. A new book Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt, provides a glimpse into the history of the Baptist and Methodist churches at a critical time when a choice was made between marginalization and acceptance into the mainstream. The rabble-rousing Baptist and Methodist preachers who roamed the American south in the eighteenth century were radical … [in that they had] a vision of the church as a place where the distinctions of race, gender, and class were all but obliterated by the Holy Spirit. Many prevailed upon slave owners to free their slaves, and they defended the right of any person, black or white, male or female, educated or illiterate, to give public witness to their faith by speaking in church. By the early nineteenth century, however, these socially unpopular positions had provoked considerable tension and even scandal within Southern culture, and the churches faced a drop in membership. One churchman of the era is quoted by Christine Heyrman, the book’s author, as saying that ‘they could not rest content with a religion that was the faith of women, children, and slaves.” Kathleen Norris

“Preach the word … correct, rebuke and encourage –
with great patience and careful instruction.”
2 Timothy 4:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your church take positions that are “socially unpopular?” If so, is it in a “radical” sense, insisting on Biblical values in spite of popular political or sacred religious convictions to the contrary?
  • Does a desire to be “respectable” prevent this? Can your church be “marginalized” and still effective for God?
  • Would church leadership speak out in this way even if it might mean “a drop in membership?” …or some form of “oppression?” Would the people tolerate it? Would you?
  • In many ways the church of Jesus is one of “women, children, and slaves.” Can you “rest content” with this, not only in theory, but as it manifests itself in your church?

Jesus, deliver us from the need for respectability.


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

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