“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2
If you are anything like me, you just re-read that line of scripture a few times. These words from Jesus have a surprise factor to them and stir something inside of us, even bother us. Why? I think it’s because society at large tells us to be more mature, sophisticated, and in constant pursuit of appearing put together. But Jesus is asking for something more, something counter-cultural.
Jesus treasures child-like faith. Not a faith of immaturity, but one of pure adoration and zeal for Him. And a sign of this type of faith is joyful worship. The act of worshiping should be fun. It should be free, and flow from us with excitement. When I think of genuine excitement, I think back to my five-year old self, running through the backyard playing tag with all of my imaginary friends. This joy I harnessed was pure because I was not concerned with anyone else’s perception of me, nor did I hold any judgment towards myself. Being aware of others’ perceptions of us is an adult attribute, that if projected onto a child, can hinder their ability to worship God in the way He intended it to be.
This reminds me of a point in King David’s life when he was “dancing before the Lord with all his might.” (2 Samuel 6:14) When confronted by his wife who was clearly embarrassed by his public actions, he said “…I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” (2 Samuel 6:21) David humbled himself and worshiped the Lord with adoration and zeal because he understood the importance of child-like faith.
So, why is practicing "undignified" worship so important, and how does it impact our Kids Ministry?
• Children are sponges in their surroundings. They absorb traits, ideas, and personality directly from those around them. Often times, the ideals they learn at a young age carry with them throughout their life – whether positive or negative. If we as leaders can’t show public enthusiasm for our God in front of them, who will be their influence? Who will welcome them in and demonstrate that it’s not only acceptable to outwardly express love for Jesus, but it’s what He truly desires? As Jesus says himself, “whoever welcomes one such child in my name, welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:5)
• We can learn from children. As much as we need to teach children to worship freely, we also need to learn from them. Every weekend I get to see little hands and hearts clapping, jumping, and yelling along with the worship music. As much as they need to see us worshiping like David, we need to see them doing what they do best – having child-like faith. We need to foster and protect that zeal in them because our hearts need to be changed back to a child’s heart, free from the opinions and pressures of this society. This is the way Jesus intended it.
• We are raising up the next generation. Jesus wants nothing more than for us to love Him. He wants our adoration and affections. He longs for it. Worship (public, private, in the car, singing along in the shower…) is the way to break down the perceptions of ourselves, and the way we think we need to act. It’s a way to take our focus off of us and direct it at Him. Raising up the next generation of worshipers is a serious task. In a world that wants to take innocence and destroy it, we need to preserve it and provide an environment that encourages what Jesus’ heart longs for.
I want to encourage us all to worship like David, zealous and unreserved, to act with an intention to inspire the younger generations to love Jesus as He desires us to, and to learn how to humble ourselves to become child-like in our faith.
For more information about CornerstoneSF's Kids Ministry, visit the Kid's Ministry page.