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Child running toward her mother

The Childlike Spirit

Johann Christoph Arnold

Available languages: Deutsch, español, 한국어, العربية

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  • Nongwa sichembe

    Thanks for this lesson, but I am not sure the Bible says that you should Baptize the little children, if the children come to the lord. I don't believe that Baptism saves but insted it is a picture of burial and ressurection of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is after they believe that they are baptised.

  • Nathan Schmiedicke

    This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture! Hans Kurtz and I had a discussion this past summer in which we talked about infant baptism. As a Catholic, we baptize our little ones precisely because of what Jesus says here. Baptism is necessary to enter the kingdom of God and Jesus tells us that the kingdom DOES belong TO THE LITTLE ONES, and not to hinder them from entering it. I have a great affection, love, and respect for your community (as does our archbishop of your NY province) and I only pray, that as Saint Paul said "that all of you agree and that there be no dissentions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and same judgment" (1 cor 1:10--and he was talking about Baptism!!), or again "be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and one mind." Seems to me that's why we are baptized "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" -- we become participants in the knowledge and love that is the perfect unity in the Trinity, we are enabled to Love each other the way God loves in the community of Persons that the Trinity is. May the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, descend upon you and remain with you. Peace,

  • Emmy Lou O'Connor

    I just requested 8 books for family and Project Gabriel with whom I volunteer. It's an organization that supports women who have chosen life over abortion. After reading this excerpt, I'm quite confident that your book will be perfect. I am anxious to read the entire book. Thank you.

"Children were brought to him so that he could lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, 'Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them'" (Matt. 19:13–14).

With these words, Jesus tells us that children are important. And his assertion that the kingdom of God belongs to them is a message we need still today: in our time no less than his, children are often not wanted.

Adults often fail to grasp how near to God children already are. We forget that, as Jesus says, "their angels always have access to my Father." "Angel" means "messenger." Guardian angels are spiritual messengers, spirits sent by God to protect and guide children. Unlike these angels, and unlike children, we cannot see God. Yet we can see children, and we can receive them into our hearts. In receiving them, we receive Jesus himself (Luke 9:48).

How do we bring children to Jesus? First of all, we must believe in him ourselves, and come to him with trust and faith. In the New Testament we read how Simeon and Anna – two very old people – waited their whole lives for the Messiah, the "consolation of Israel." When Jesus was born, they welcomed the new baby with joy and belief. Now they could face death without fear and could live in peace.

As a pastor I am often asked to bless newborn babies, and it is one of the most wonderful things I do. Jesus himself says that "whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me" (Mark 9:37). This attitude of love and faith is what the childlike spirit is all about.

Everyone loves a new baby, but even babies can quickly test our patience and may soon seem to be a burden or inconvenience. But no matter how much trouble they bring, children are a gift from God. When we welcome them in this way, God will surely bless us and give us the strength to raise them. This should be an encouragement to all young families and to those who are thinking of founding a family. Especially when we face adversity, God is waiting to help us, providing we pray and ask, seek and knock (Matt. 7:7–11). Then doors will be opened.

In a time when childlike faith is despised and mocked like never before, we would do well to remember Jesus' words about becoming like children – and his promise that they will be the greatest in the age to come: "Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3-4).

For the sake of children everywhere, one wishes that this kingdom might come very soon.

From Why Children Matter by Johann Christoph Arnold.

Childs hands holding paper doll family
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Contributed By Johann Christoph Arnold Johann Christoph Arnold

A noted speaker and writer on marriage, parenting, education, and end-of-life issues, Arnold is a senior pastor of the Bruderhof, a movement of Christian communities.

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