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One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering Him. When Jesus saw what was happening, He was angry with His disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then He took the children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them.

Mark 10:13-16

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
Jesus called a little child to Him and put the child among them. Then He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

“Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father. If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.

Matthew 18:1-6, 10-14


Kids Kingdom

Randy K’Meyer


If you have children in the home, and you are having one of those days, my advice is to do exactly what it says on the aspirin bottle: “Take two Aspirin,” and “Keep away from children.”

That’s what the disciples were advocating for. Theirs was an adult-oriented world. Children meant little; at best, they were tolerated until they reached adulthood. At worst, they were only valued for what adults could get out of them. One author states, “At the time of Jesus’ life, child abuse was the crying vice of the Roman Empire. Infanticide was common. Abandonment was common. That’s because children were property, no different than slaves.” 1

So His disciples said, “Jesus, we think it best if you didn’t waste your time on children.”

However; when these well-meaning parents bring their kids to Jesus for a blessing, He comes to their defense. “Bring the children unto Me and hinder them not; for here is Kingdom Joy!”

This Markan pericope is not the only time Jesus links His Kids with His Kingdom. Matthew reveals the disciples arguing about which one of them was the greatest (talk about acting like children). What a shocker to these grown-ups, when Jesus calls a little child over, “I tell you this, that unless you become like little children, you will never, no never, enter the Kingdom of God.”

Do you think it strange, lads and lassies, that we so much desire for children to become like us (grown-up, mature, responsible, serious adults), and yet the Master says, “Children.”

And He concludes by stressing just how important children are viewed by His Father. “It is not the will of the Father that any of these children perish” (Matthew 18:14).

What is it about children that Jesus would have us emulate?

Their energy? (hope not) their ability to laugh, their sense of wide-eyed wonder?

Maybe their innocence? In a Reader’s Digest, Laughter in These United States, a mother writes, “As I was nursing my baby, my cousin’s six-year-old daughter, Krissy, came into the room. Never having seen this type of activity before, she was intrigued and full of all kinds of questions about what I was doing. After mulling over my answers, she nonchalantly remarked, ‘My mom has two of those, but I don’t think she knows how to use them.’”

But then again perhaps Jesus is referring to their honesty. Art Linkletter (kids say the darndest things) asked one grammar school youth what his father did for a living. The boy took the microphone like an ice cream cone, “My dads a cop! He catches crooks and burglars and spread-eagles ‘em and puts cuffs on ‘em and takes ‘em down to the station and puts ‘em in the slammer.
“Wow,” Art replied, “I bet your mother gets worried about his work doesn’t she?”
“Heck no,” the kid says, “My dad is all the time bringing mom lots of watches and rings and jewelry.”

The answer is found in verse 4, “anyone who becomes as humble as this little child.” Child-like faith, that’s the key to the kingdom!

At birth, God built into every person an instinctive belief of Himself. Children in every culture have a concept of God. Psychologist Paul Bloom at Yale University reports that “when children are directly asked about the origin of animals and people, they tend to prefer explanations that involve an intentional creator, even if the adults who raised them do not.”

Psychologist Justin Barrett at Oxford University reports similar findings and adds, “It appears that we have to be educated out of the knowledge of God by secular schools and media.” 2

I wonder how many adults are prevented from entering the kingdom because we’ve been taught all of our lives not to trust, to be skeptical.

I recall preaching a message on salvation by faith in Christ alone, apart from works of the law. After worship, one of my parishioners invited me to my office and, with a face as red as a beet, scolded me for preaching such nonsense, insisting that we are made right with God based upon what do and don’t do.

“Leslie,” I said, all you have to do is have faith that Christ gave His life for yours.”

“Wait a minute, that’s too easy, there’s got to be more to it than that, even a kid could do that.”

I said, “Now you’re beginning to understand.”

How it must break the Father’s heart to see so many kids who rightfully belong to His Kingdom have to contend with so many barriers that prevent them.

One of the biggest barriers is screens.

Jeffrey Froh writes that an American child who watches three hours of children’s television programming a day will see 4,380 good acts in a year but 15,330 acts of violence in that same time. Strong evidence from research indicates that abundant exposure to violent programming and video games is linked to aggressive attitudes, values, and behaviors. In a broad review of more than a hundred studies involving over 130,000 male and female participants from around the world, researchers found that violent video games increase aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, bodily arousal (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure), and aggressive behavior and that they decrease empathy for others and helping behavior. 3

A new study published in the UK reveals that children are struggling with low self-esteem, loneliness, or deep levels of unhappiness which is strongly connected with the drive to keep up one’s image on social media. One expert noted, “It is clear that the pressure to keep up with friends and have the perfect life online is adding to the sadness that many young people feel on a daily basis.” 4

According to a February CDC report, “57% of U.S. teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021; double that of boys, representing a nearly 60% increase and the highest level reported over the past decade. While all teens reported increasing mental health challenges, experiences of violence, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, girls fared worse than boys across nearly all measures. 30% seriously considered attempting suicide—up nearly 60% from a decade ago. 5

Thankfully parents are beginning to take notice.

Adriana Stacey of Fayetteville, Arkansas said, “I’ll never buy a smartphone for any of my children.” Stacey is a psychiatrist who works primarily with high school and college students, many of whom are regularly dealing with anxiety, depression, and a lack of focus. She says it’s rare for any of her young clients to admit to less than nine hours of daily smartphone use, which means that they spend more time on their phones than they do sleeping.

Counselor, Emily Cherkin says, “What really troubles me is that we are giving devices and products and apps that are designed to be addictive to children, And then we’re expecting them to self-regulate and get upset when they do stupid things.” 6

There is also a correlation between how much time a child spends on screens and a lack of a firm foundation on which to base life.

In The Path to Purpose: Helping Our Children Find Their Calling in Life, Stanford University psychologist William Damon notes, “There have always been kids that drift, but I do think we have a special problem today in the numbers of kids and the kind of trouble they’re having in finding a sense of direction in life.” 7

According to Greater Good Magazine, Science-Based Insights for a Meaningful Life, “only about 20% of adolescents have a clear sense of purpose.”

As ‘purpose’ scholar Kendall Bronk writes, “We can conclude that individuals who lack purpose and meaning in life are likely to show detrimental effects in a wide range of aspects of psychological functioning. Young people who lack a sense of purpose or meaning in their lives report more boredom, anger, and other negative emotions. They are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, social problems, and even suicidality.”

“Studies show that people—especially young people—with a strong sense of purpose are happier, healthier, more motivated, and more resilient. And that individuals with a sense of purpose and meaning in life are poised to thrive. They have stronger identities and higher levels of self-esteem and feel more hopeful, optimistic, and confident in their abilities. What’s more, they are more likely to be engaged in their communities in positive, helpful ways. More purposeful people are more resilient and better able to cope with life’s challenges. Purpose has even been related to better physical health and longevity.” 8

I ask you, my friends, ‘Does the Church have anything to say about all this?’

Four out of five young people are drifting through life without purpose in life!

The church is facing a tremendous challenge in trying to reach children and teens with the good news about Jesus and His love.

Certainly, there could be no more noble task than this! “It is not the will of the Father that any of these children perish” (Matthew 18:14).

I’m sure that God knows that 85% of all people who claim to be Christian today said they made a decision to trust Christ before they reached the age of 18. We need to reach them now!

Paul Meier, author of Christian Child-Rearing and Personality Development, writes, “I believe some children can understand enough during the latter part of their first six years to know that they frequently do wrong, that they want God to forgive them, and that they want to live forever in heaven, such that when they understand that God loves them so much He sent Jesus to provide those things, they put their simple faith in Him.” 9

In the book, Children in the Bible School, Lois LeBar lists among her eight reasons any church should engage in a thoughtful ministry to children “The most favorable soil for sowing the seed of the word of God is found in the pliable heart of a child.” 10

This is why we are starting a mid-week program of Christian education for kids K-5th grade that has as its goal introducing kids to Christ.

We know that kids who build upon the solid foundation of faith in Christ will discover meaning and purpose in life!

That article I just referenced, published by the science-based Greater Good Magazine also gives a prescription for helping young people find meaning and purpose in life.

  1. READ

This scientific article even states: “In a 2010 paper, for example, Leslie Francis studied a group of nearly 26,000 teenagers throughout England and Wales—and found that those who read the Bible more tended to have a stronger sense of purpose.”


They explain that learning to empathize with the pain of others enhances finding meaning and purpose in life.


In, Making Grateful Kids, Jeffey Froh writes, “We’ve found that grateful young adolescents, compared to their less grateful counterparts, are happier; are more optimistic; have better social support from friends and family; are more satisfied with their school, family, community, friends, and themselves; and give more emotional support to others. 11


“Telling your story gives us clarity of our own lives, how to understand ourselves, and gives us a framework that goes beyond the day-to-day and basically helps us make sense of our experiences.” 12

One of the wisest men who has ever lived, not Solomon this time, but Confucius, said, “If your plan is for a year, plant rice. If your plan is for a decade plant trees. If your plan is for a lifetime, educate children.” 13

Could there be anything more pleasing to the One who doesn’t wish for any of these to be lost than reaching out with the love of Jesus to children and youth?

I close with two stories that aptly summarize everything said today.

One morning years ago, Billy Graham was walking through a park in Albany, NY, mentally preparing for a crusade he was going to begin preaching that night. He sat down on a park bench to mediate and became aware of someone nearby. Looking up he saw a little boy staring at him with keen interest.

“What’s your name?” the boy asked, then “Where you from? and “What you doing here?”

To the last question, Billy said, “I have come to Albany to preach.”

“What does preach mean?”

“It means to tell others about Jesus Christ.”

Immediately the little boy cupped his hands over his mouth and whispered, “Mister, don’t you know that’s a cuss word?”

“And it dawned on me,” Billy said, “that the only time the boy ever heard the name of Jesus was as a profanity.”

In the May 28, 1998 edition of USA Today, the following appeared among the various letters to the editor. It still rings true 25 years later.

Will somebody help me save my son? My son is two years old and a reflection of complete innocence. His vulnerability to this harsh, violent, and uncaring world just rips my heart apart. He knows nothing of the killing within the schools that are supposed to prepare children for the world. He knows nothing of the abuse that happens in the homes of many his age. As he plays with his toys, he is oblivious to the tragedies that occur every day across this country. And as he clutches his blanket, sleeping soundly, dreaming of the mommy and daddy who love him, he has no idea of the social and moral decay of our country. Does anyone care anymore? Will someone please, please help me save my son?”

1 Rebecca McLaughlin, Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion, [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, © 2019), p. 67-68
Quoting Paul Offit, M.D., Bad Faith, [New York City: Basic Books, © 2015] https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2020/february/physician-moved-to-tears-by-jesus-advocacy-for-children.html

2 Nancy Pearcey, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes, (David C. Cook, 2015), Page 31 https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2018/december/young-children-have-built-in-concept-of-god.html

3 Adapted from Jeffrey Froh, Making Grateful Kids, (Templeton Press, 2015), page 133 https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2018/august/media-exposes-children-to-15330-violent-acts-year.html

4 Matthew Hussey Tweet, The Web is quietly creating a generation of miserable kids, The Next Web https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2016/march/5030716.html

5 U.S. Teen Girls Experiencing Increased Sadness and Violence,
Monday, February 13, 2023

6 Ellen McCarthy, Meet the Parents Who Refuse to give their Kids Smartphones, The Washington Post (5-9-22) https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2022/june/parents-refuse-smartphone-access-for-children.html

7 Majority of Youths Found to Lack a Direction in Life,
by Debra Viadero, June 10, 2008

8 Greater Good Magazine
Science Based Insights for a Meaningful Life


9 Paul Meier, Christian Child-Rearing and Personality Development,
[Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, © 1995]

10 Lois LeBar, Children in the Bible School, [Grand Rapids, Michigan:
Fleming H. Revell Company, Division of Baker Books, © 1962].

11 Jeffrey Froh, Making Grateful Kids,
[West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania: Templeton Press, © 2015] https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2017/november/8111317.html

12 Greater Good Magazine
Science Based Insights for a Meaningful Life
How to Find Your Purpose in Life

13 https://saltforsermons.org.uk/category/children/