Let the Children Come (A Reflection)

Let me be candid right from the beginning—I’m single and I don’t have any children, so I’m not the most qualified person in the universe to talk about them. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably never thought to wonder what a single person thinks about children. I certainly understand that, but let me offer an argument for why having children around is one of the best things a single person can have in their life. Let me propose that the consideration of children should be a part of every believer’s life, not just the married ones.

I went to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. In my four years of college, I really can’t remember having a single interaction with a child. I never saw them. There were certainly married students there, but they had their own building. They also must have had their own underground tunnels for shuttling their children from place to place, because—honestly—where were they? It’s not just a college university thing either; big cities are strangely absent of children. I remember seeing a few of them running around the parks, but the city keeps them mostly cordoned in what I can only imagine are large industrial-sized playpens. I didn’t necessarily relish the fact that I never saw kids. I just didn’t think about it, ever.

Now you might be thinking this is an ideal situation. What college student wants loud little rowdy kids disturbing their attempts to pick up women at the campus coffee shop? And what mother wants their children around college students, of all people? It does seem ideal, I guess, this world where college students can go on with their lives without ever considering children. Ideal, yes, that’s what I’d call it; but, this is something I’ve learned about life—maybe you can agree with me here—life isn’t ideal. If you want to learn how to live, you want to avoid artificial partitions at all costs. Once real life happens and all bets are off, you realize it's more important to develop the character necessary to manage the difficulty of real life, rather than working to create an artificially easy life.

In Stories class, Ben teaches about the basic components of good stories. Benjamin Reese shares his love of stories and literature at the GOD Elementary school.

In Stories class, Ben teaches about the basic components of good stories. Benjamin Reese shares his love of stories and literature at the GOD Elementary school.

There’s this story where the children all come to Jesus. You’ve probably seen it depicted in quite a few paintings. The disciples, of course try to stop them. (Just what young men would do, am I right?) We usually don’t reflect on this story. Usually it’s just used to show that Jesus was a really, really nice and gentle guy—so nice he was even willing to take some time out of his busy schedule to hold a few kids now and then. But, Jesus’ rebuke to his disciples shows that his reason for allowing the children to come was rooted more in his theology than his congeniality, “For it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Lk. 18:16). The kingdom of God was the thrust of Jesus’ whole ministry, so its no small thing that Jesus names children as the primary recipients of his work.

I don’t think it’s a plug for childhood evangelization. I think it's stating a reasonable fact. The world we make is the world children are going to live in. Jesus was creating a new world among his disciples, and these children were to be the beneficiaries of that work. Earlier in Luke, Jesus says, “Wisdom is justified by her children” (7:35). A world is only as a good as the children it produces. Isn’t this the wake up call many parents get, an awareness that their decisions will resound into the lives of their children?

If the kingdom of God is something that comes to earth, then we have to consider the ones that will inherit it after we leave. If we can’t enter into the kingdom “as little children”—if little children don’t have a place in God’s kingdom—then it’s not God’s kingdom. I am very glad that our organization values the consideration of this reality. I don’t have the luxury to ask myself, "How does the life I’m living work for me?" I have to ask whether or not the work I’m doing is good for the children that will inherit the product.  This is real life—all fake partitions aside. The kingdom of God cannot come if you don’t consider the next generation.

Recently, I’ve begun teaching at G.O.D. Elementary School. My life is quite different now. I used to live a life without making any of the considerations you have to make staring into the eyes of eager 8-year old students. The city would make us believe that the world runs more efficiently when you shove children to the side. That may be true. The world might run more efficiently, but it won’t run more humanely. No, I’m no expert on children, and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot when I become a parent. But, I’m glad to have them around, because every day—as I work, study, build relationships, make decisions—I do it in the presence of those who will inherit the consequences of my activities.

I’m still single, and I still have the benefit of going home to a quiet house. I’m not trying to be a parent when I’m not. But, I don’t live my life like children aren’t a reality. When I see children looking up to me, I consider the kind of person I want to be, the kind of example I want to set. When I hold a child, I think of the kind of world I want to give to them. This gives meaning to my work, and it gently nudges me away from the insane myopia that my demographic seems to revel in. So, I say, let the children come, with all their energy, rowdiness, and craziness. They can trample, climb, and scream through my life all they want.