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Like a little child

February 26, 2018 No Comment

by Paul Zabel

And Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).


In the Saturday, December 30, 2017 religion section of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record newspaper an article caught my attention. The title was: “How Declining Church Attendance Harms Society.” The author began by noting how the pews in most churches are noticeably fuller during the Christmas season. However, once the Christmas season is over, most churches return to “normal”—meaning that following Christmas, church attendance decreases significantly—and how this is “bad news” for everyone. Bad news, in that going to church benefits not only those who are in the church, but also those outside of the church. In his opinion, the writer declared the benefit of attending for those within the church is that the church creates community and the benefit for those outside of the church is that church attendance increases the socio-economic status of society as a whole. In other words, a churchgoing population generates a greater level of social capital—a higher level of social and moral relationships amongst all people.

While the writer missed the boat as far as I was concerned, in pointing to the real reasons for attending church, he offered some valid reasons as to why declining church attendance does harm society, why declining church attendance should be a matter of great concern for church people and also non-church people, and why we should be making a greater effort in directing our children and young people to be church attenders by leading by example.

Worshipping is our response to what God has done for us!

What is the real reason for attending church? The most wonderful thing God has done for us was to send His only Son to bridge the gap between Himself and us. That gap was created by our own making. That gap came as a result of our own self-centredness, our greed, our lust, our envy—in other words, our sins. When we realize what a wonderful thing God has done for us in Christ Jesus—how freely our Lord Jesus went to the cross to provide for us the forgiveness of all our sins and to give us the gift of life with Him forever—we just cannot stop worshipping, thanking, and praising Him! Worshipping is our response to what God has done for us!

Consider the following scenario: One day our Lord Jesus was lecturing to the Pharisees about some divorce matters. Near Him were some mothers with their children clamouring for attention. The disciples, thinking the Master would be disturbed by the confusion, went to them and said, “Our Master is a busy man. He has a full calendar. Can’t you see you are disturbing Him?” Jesus heard them speak these words and said, “You are very mistaken. I am happy to bless these children. Allow them to come to Me. Do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven; and if one does not become as a little child, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

If we think it through carefully, it is not difficult to understand why Jesus indicated that we enter the Kingdom by being like a little child. Little children often exhibit endearing qualities that Christ wants for all His children. We are aware of how dependent they are. They have absolute faith in their parents, and they trust that the words they speak to them are truth. They are willing to rely on their parents’ decisions, and if ever they get into trouble, they turn to them for help, confident they will receive it. And what imitators they are! My youngest granddaughter just celebrated her first birthday. She already knows how to fold her hands while sitting in her highchair when the table prayer is spoken before eating. She wants to do just as her mom and dad do.

So, God would have us all be imitators of Him. He has revealed Himself to us through Christ His Son, and each day we should try to live as He did when He walked the streets of this world. Anyone may enter the kingdom of heaven. We do not need long merit lists, nor do we have to possess a college or university degree or great material riches. But we need to be childlike, humbly confessing our need of God’s forgiveness.

Rev. Paul Zabel is president of Lutheran Church–Canada’s East District

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