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Child-likeness is Christ-likeness
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Child-likeness is Christ-likeness

Adrian Holloway on April 27, 2008 with 0 Comments

Matthew 18:1-4 – Preaching from ChristChurch London’s Sunday Service

When I first met Julia, who is now my wife, I really liked her, but I was convinced that she wouldn’t like me, because I thought she was too good looking for me. (For obvious reasons).

But she was one of 20 friends who agreed to go ice skating one day, and I was one of the 4 drivers for the trip, and to my surprise, Julia got in my car. In fact she sat next to me in my marine blue 2 litre Ford Sierra, but I genuinely didn’t think that meant anything. I thought, ‘she’s got to sit somewhere, in someone’s car, she’s just happened to have drawn the short straw and ended up in mine for no particular reason.’

When the ice skating began, I had a problem in that although I can ice skate quite fast, I can’t change direction or stop, so all I could do is race across the ice and slam into the boards and then race back and slam into the boards. I actually spent quite a lot of the afternoon spread-eagled on the ice. And I did catch Julia laughing at me on one occasion, but on another occasion, she came over to help me up. But I thought, she just felt sorry for me.

But then at the end of the day, all 20 of us went back to her parents’ house, and we watched a video. And Julia was the last to enter the room and she sat on my side of the room. She came over and sat on the floor next to my chair. In fact, looking back, I probably should have offered her my chair.

She could have sat anywhere but she sat next to me. And that was the first moment when I thought, “Aha! I wonder if, just maybe, she likes me.”

So in the days that followed, I started dropping all kinds of hints to her, but I couldn’t tell if she’d got them.

Two weeks later, I deliberately sat next to her on a sofa, and as we talked she moved her knee so that it was touching mine. But I dismissed this as purely accidental knee contact. You know the sort of slightly embarrassing accidental knee contact that can happen when a girl finds herself sitting next to a guy who she doesn’t actually fancy at all. And so, I thought, any second now, Julia will realise that her knee is touching mine and take it away. But 5 seconds passed, and I have to tell you that no such knee withdrawal took place.

Then I thought, maybe the sofa is so small that Julia has been squashed into sustained knee contact against her will by a lack of space. A bit like on the tube in rush hour. So I assessed the overall size of the rest of the sofa, only to realize there was lots of free space.

And her knee was still touching mine. I thought: “maybe she has one of those medical conditions where you know, you can’t feel things. Or maybe she’s had a nerve cut in her right knee. Maybe she has paralysis of the right knee.”

But no, that was nonsense. I decided that if her knee was still touching mine in one minute’s time, I would take that as official confirmation that she was interested in me. And that she’d got my hints.

I have to tell you that knee contact was maintained for a further minute, and consequently as a result, I realised that I had received a signal. And so I invited her to a party in Brighton, where I asked her out.

Anyway to make a long story short, we got married, and four years ago, when we were living in Birmingham, I nervously told our eldest daughter Esther, who was 4 at the time, the momentous news that we were going to move to London to help start a new church, this church, Christ Church.

I explained all the reasons. And Esther just accepted it. She was like: “Great. Yeah. It’s what God wants. No problem.” And then a hilarious conversation followed. Esther asked me an excellent question.

She said: “Daddy, when we move to London, we’ll have new neighbours, won’t we?”

I said: “Yes, Esther, we will.”

She said: “Daddy, they won’t like you!”

I said: “Why? Why, won’t they like me?”

She replied: “Well, you’ve got no hair.”

And Esther’s reasoning was along the lines of: “Look it’s all very well being bald in Birmingham. Daddy, in the midlands, baldness is normal, it’s almost expected. But if we’re moving to London, and you’re bald – Daddy, you’re not going to be very popular.”

I then tried to explain to Esther that Daddy once had hair. So I produced a photo of myself to prove to her that I did once have a full head of hair. Would you like to see it? This is a photo I showed her of me when I was aged 7.

SLIDE 2: Photo of me aged 7

Now as you can see, I’ve got a number of problems here. For example, my fringe is supposed to be straight, but it’s going ever so slightly uphill. Can you see that?

But what struck me about my conversation with Esther was that whereas I was consumed with concerns about the move: “how can we afford to buy a house in London? How will we get a mortgage? Esther’s attitude was: “God’s called us to move to London. He’ll sort it all out.”

And that day in Birmingham, I learned something about trusting God from a four year old. And I’ve been learning from our children ever since.

And today, we are focusing on what children can teach us, because Jesus told us to. Here’s one such occasion:

SLIDE 3:
Title: “Child-likeness is Christ-likeness”
1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 18: 1-4)

The disciples assumed that they were going to the kingdom of heaven. Their only question was ‘seeing as all 12 of us are going to get there, who is the greatest disciple?’ So they had regular arguments about it.

James says: “I think you’ll find that I am the greatest disciple.”

And maybe John says: “You, no way, you’re not nearly as holy as me, I am without doubt the greatest disciple, just check out my centre parting. In fact let’s settle the matter once and for all. Let’s ask Jesus. There he is. Master, who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Well, who will Jesus choose? He’s got 12 burly men to choose from: Various fishermen, Matthew the tax collector, or maybe Simon the Zealot. Who will Jesus choose?

Instead of the 12 men, Jesus called a little child and had him stand among them. Just like we’ll do here on the stage today when we call the children up and dedicate them. We’ll put little children centre stage.

That’s exactly what’s happening here. A little toddler is called by Jesus to take centre stage. Jesus tells the adults to move aside and let the child into the circle. So now this 3 year old (or whatever age he was) is surrounded by a forest of 12 towering adults. Jesus makes the toddler the teacher. And Jesus puts the adults in the position of the taught.

And then Jesus has some shocking news for his 12 disciples. He says to them: “Unless you change.” Or as the Authorized Version has it, “unless you are converted. You will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

“Far from being the greatest, unless you change,” Jesus says, “you twelve men are not even going to make it into the kingdom of heaven.”

So, who will enter the kingdom of heaven?

Jesus answer is: “Whoever humbles himself like this child”

That’s Jesus answer! Take the low road. Humble yourself. Climb down off your ladder of self-importance, and self-reliance and learn something from this toddler.

That’s what Jesus wants us to do today.

Here’s an even better example of the same thing in Mark chapter 10.

SLIDE 4:
Title: “Child-likeness is Christ-likeness”
13People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16)

Now Matthew tells us that these parents wanted Jesus to pray for their children. Luke tells us that the children being thrust forward were babies. “Jesus please touch my baby.” “Jesus please pray for my daughter.”

Why would they do that? Because of how attractive Jesus is. His mercy. His compassion. His teaching. His healing miracles.

And the disciples rebuked these parents. Maybe the disciples thought it was all a lot of superstitious nonsense. Or maybe they thought that Jesus was far too busy and important to stop to pray for babies one by one.

But again the disciples are so wrong. When Jesus saw that his disciples were turning these children away, Jesus was indignant, (or some translations say, Jesus was angry.) Jesus was really offended that his own disciples were literally preventing people from bringing their children to him.

And in what follows, Mark has preserved for us, 3 precious sentences that Jesus spoke by way of reply:

Here’s the first one:

SLIDE 5:
Title: “Child-likeness is Christ-likeness”
1. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them” (Mark 10:14a)

Jesus wants everyone to come to him, especially children.

We must never do anything to prevent people from coming to Jesus. We mustn’t do anything by our own life and example to make it difficult for others. To corrupt a young mind, or a young Christian with the cynicism of our unbelief is a dreadful thing.

Most of all we must live with integrity, whether we’re parents yet or not. We’ve got to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. We’ve got to set an example. Children will pick up on any inconsistency. They’ll see it quick as a flash.

So for example, two weeks ago, I’m driving the car, everything’s fine, the sun’s shining, we’re on a family holiday, and then a little voice from the backseat says: “Daddy, you are doing 34 miles an hour in a 30 mile an hour zone.”

I reply: “Yeah, but Daddy’s only 4 miles an hour over the limit. That’s no big deal. You know, if Daddy was doing 14 miles an hour over the limit that would be totally different.”

The backseat voice says: “But Daddy why would it be totally different? That sign we just passed said that 30 miles an hour is the limit and you’re doing 34.”

I’m like: “Yeah, but girls, what you’ve got to understand is that Daddy’s one of the good guys. The police will understand that. You girls, you know, you needn’t take the rules so literally.”

And then after a moment’s silence, the backseat voice says: “Daddy, you are breaking one of the ten commandments.”

I reply: “OK, OK, 29 miles an hour it is.”

You see, you can’t tell a child to literally obey the rules at home, and then play fast and loose with the rules yourself when you’re in your Vauxhall Zafira. As I have discovered.

Now most of you here are not parents yet. Statistically, however, most of you will be. Of course, the reality is that not everyone who wants children now has got them yet. But for those of you who want to build a family, you might even have wondered . . . what my children will be like? Well, the book of Proverbs says, they’ll be like you. They will have your strengths. And that is one of the most exciting things about this church! You guys are going to model all the faith, and commitment and love for God that we see in this theatre today, to children who don’t yet exist. They’ll be like you. If you’re generous you’ll model that to your children. If you share your faith you’ll model that too. The potential in this room to change London is amazing. I’m not preaching to only 500 people, you guys represent a far larger crowd of your children and grand-children, who will be shaped by you! That’s so exciting. You are destined to change this city and this nation.

But there’s a challenge with that. Where you’re weak, you will model that weakness. How you pray, however you serve, the amount you love, who you love, that’s what your child will assume is the model. Your children will look up to you and whether you like it or not they will copy the good and the bad. King David had a weakness for women, and that was his son Solomon’s downfall. It’s the story of the Old Testament. Right now, by the way you live, by your habits now, you are shaping what your children will be like. I wish I had addressed some of my weaknesses earlier. But for many of you, there’s time. If you become more like Jesus, your children, will have a happier life. They’ll be more peace in your home. The good news is that you can start raising and start shaping your kids today, even if you don’t have them yet.

Next . . .

SLIDE 6:
Title: “Child-likeness is Christ-likeness”
2. The kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Mark 10:14b)

The Kingdom of God belongs to children, and that’s one of the reasons why we dedicate little children to him. If Jesus of Nazareth felt it was important to stop what he was doing, and take babies in his arms and pray for them and bless them, then it’s important that we should do the same. Children are important to God. In fact many of them will enter the kingdom of God ahead of us, as we see next . . .

SLIDE 7:
Title: “Child-likeness is Christ-likeness”
3. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15)

Jesus sets before us child-likeness as our goal. Entry into the kingdom of God is impossible without it. Greatness is measured by it.

But hang on a minute, he can’t mean that we’re supposed to be child-like in every way?

You see elsewhere in the bible we are told very definitely NOT to be like children.

So, child-like in what respect?

SLIDE 8:
“Child-like in what respect?”
a) It’s not the irresponsibility of children that we’re to imitate. (Jeremiah 1:7)
b) It’s not the immaturity of a child that we’re to imitate. (1 Corinthians 14:20)

a) It’s not the irresponsibility of children that we’re called to imitate.

In Jeremiah chapter 1, Jeremiah tries to use his youth as a valid excuse to avoid the responsibility of being called by God. But God replies: “Do not say, I am only a child. Jeremiah your lack of years is not a valid excuse.”

b) It’s not the intellectual immaturity of a child that we’re called to imitate.

In the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he accuses them of intellectual immaturity.

VISUAL AID: Connie the Crab, likenened to the Corinthians.

In chapter 14, verse 20, the apostle Paul says: “Stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in regard to your thinking, grow up and become like adults.”

In the same way, there are good reasons for us firstly to believe in God and secondly to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

What if you only had 90 seconds to summarize them? We could choose 3 reasons for each. Firstly 3 reasons to believe in a creator.

Reason 1: The extreme improbability of the universe coming into existence out of nothing for absolutely no reason at all.

Scientists are now agreed that the universe had a beginning. There is no plausible atheistic explanation as to how the universe could have come to exist. Intelligent design by an intelligent designer is a far more coherent hypothesis.

Reason 2: The “fine-tuning” of the universe.

For matter to settle down and continue to exist, millions of spooky co-incidences have to happen. The relationship between protons and electrons, the precise properties of carbon and water. When you get to your one hundred millionth co-incidence it’s just all far to bizarre to say this all happened by chance. You and I would never conclude that in any other area of life. We’d never look at an aeroplane and conclude that it was created by an explosion at a junkyard. We’d be far more likely to say the aeroplane was designed.

Reason 3: The extreme improbability of organic life coming into existence by chance.

To get life out of non-life. To get the first ever living cell. To get DNA. DNA is a code. It’s information. Information has to come from somewhere. DNA is needed for the first cell to reproduce itself. Where did the information come from in the first ever living cell? Where did the code and the means of translating the code come from in the first ever living cell? They are both needed from the word ‘go.’ Again, it all looks suspiciously like forward planning.

The evidence, when we really take time to examine it, strongly suggests a creator or “God”.

But if this God went to all this trouble to create the universe, and went to so many extraordinary lengths to get intelligent life going on planet earth, wouldn’t it make sense for this God at some point to want to reveal himself to his creatures?

That’s what Christianity says was happening through Jesus of Nazareth.

And so again what would you say if you had 90 seconds to suggest 3 reasons for believing that Jesus was the Son of God.

VISUAL AID: BIBLE

Reason 1: The New Testament passes every test for historical reliability. We can be sure from evidence both inside and outside the bible that Jesus existed, and that this is an authentic early record of what he said, which has not been distorted by copying mistakes or exaggeration.

Reason 2: The logic of the Mad, Bad or God argument. Yes it’s hard to believe Jesus’ claim to be God, but when you actually study the evidence it turns out to be even harder to believe the alternatives, namely that Jesus was deliberately lying or that he was deluded. Jesus shows no signs of being deluded when he claimed to be God.

Reason 3: The historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ. We know Jesus died on the cross, and we know 3 days later his tomb was empty. We know the Jews or the Romans would have produced Jesus dead body if they’d had it. We know they never did. If the resurrection was a fraud because the disciples had stolen the body, why would they die for a lie that they made up? Yet 10 of the 12 disciples were martyred for their belief in the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus. Again none of the alternative theories work. The only explanation that actually fits the known facts is that Jesus physically rose from the dead. And if he did, that would confirm that he was who he said he was, the Son of God, who can bring us back into relationship with God, and give us eternal life.

And if we were to go into all this in more depth, we would see that
the leap of faith is hardly a leap at all. In becoming a Christian, all we did was step onto firm historical evidence. So in that sense it’s not childish to believe in God, nor is it childish to follow Jesus. Far from it.

So are you with me so far? We’ve seen that it’s not the irresponsibility of a child we’re called to emulate, nor is it the intellectual immaturity of a child we’re called to imitate, instead

SLIDE 9:
Title: “Child-likeness is Christ-likeness”
3. It is the humility of a little child that we are to copy. (Matt 18:4)

But hang on a minute – generally speaking, children are not humble. Surely Jesus must have noticed that. Many children are head-strong, stubborn and selfish, which is the very opposite of being humble.

Well to understand what Jesus is getting at we need to draw a distinction between the humility of behaviour on the one hand and the humility of status on the other.

Bureaucrats in Whitehall are quite right to call children “dependants” and it’s THIS kind of humility that Jesus wants us to imitate.

After a long car journey when you lift each sleeping child in from the car into the house, they wake up for a moment. See that it’s you, and go straight back to sleep, totally happy, with their arms still draped around your neck. It’s this humility of dependence that we’re to copy.

In the same way, the humility of learning – Everything children know they’ve been taught. Similarly, Jesus said that God reveals himself to the humble and not to the intellectually arrogant.

Also, the humility of receiving. If everything children know they’ve been taught, then everything that children possess they have been given.

We’ve been given oxygen to breathe, and when these babies are brought up, we’ll all be struck by the miracle of life. And it’s when we ignore the miracle giver, when we’re too proud to put God first in our life that we exclude ourselves from the kingdom of heaven. And until we know God personally, something’s not quite right.

And that’s why so many people feel that there’s something missing, a God shaped hole inside them that no amount of stuff will fill. We’re never quite satisfied.

My favourite tennis commentator is John McEnroe. And as a tennis player twenty years ago, McEnroe had sensational self-confidence.

Listen to this excerpt from his outstanding autobiography: entitled “serious”

On October 1st 1984, I was standing in the Portland airport, waiting to board a flight to L.A. for a week off, and suddenly I thought to myself: “I’m the greatest tennis player who ever lived.”

That’s so McEnroe

“So why am I so empty inside? Except for the French Open and one tournament just before the French Open, I’d won every tournament I’d played in 1984, that’s 13 out of 15, 82 out of 85 matches.

No-one had ever had a year like that in tennis before. No-one has since. But it wasn’t enough. The feeling had been building up for a while. I’d been number one for 4 years. And I’d never felt especially happy.

He then met the actress Tatum O’Neill who he ended up marrying.

He writes this: “Was I looking for the love of my life? I don’t know. I was just sick of feeling empty. I was looking for something more than just money.”

Jesus said the same thing. He said that “your life does not consist in the abundance of your possessions.”

Stage and screen actress Helen Mirren, most famous for her Oscar winning role in the film The Queen, says of her success: “I wake up some mornings and want to retire from my own ambition. I’d give anything to know what satisfaction feels like.”

We want to ask: Why is there this restlessness? Why are so many people unhappy with their lot in life?

The bible says it’s because we’re not in the relationship with God we were created for.

Was Jesus really serious when he told these people in our story that they were outside the Kingdom of God?

We think to ourselves: “if God is a loving God, a forgiving God, then if there is a heaven, He should let me in, because I am a reasonably good person.”

I once got into a hilarious debate about this, while I was taking a sixth form General Studies lesson at a very posh school in Surrey.

This set of A level students were discussing whether anyone wouldn’t make it to heaven, and within seconds they’d all agreed that certain crimes were un-forgivable, such as murder, for example.

“There’s no way murderers could go to heaven,” they said. “Murderers shouldn’t be forgiven by God. They should have something coming to them beyond the grave,” they said.

“OK, so you reckon murderers don’t go to heaven,” I said, “but are there any sins that God will sort of brush under the carpet? Sins that are really no big deal? Sins that God will sort of overlook?”

“Oh yeah” they said.

“Like what?” I said,

“Well, you know, mild shoplifting”

“Mild shoplifting?” I said, “what as opposed to sort of hard-core habitual shoplifting? Anything else?” I said

“Yeah, lying.”

So I said, “Guys, we are really making some progress. Within the space of two minutes, we have established that at the one extreme we think lying and mild shoplifting are OK, but at the other extreme we think murder is not. So what’s the cut off point? Somewhere between mild shoplifting at the one extreme and murder at the other, there must be a cut off point whereby you can sin all you want right up until you commit this particular cut off point sin, but from that point on, from the moment you commit this particular cut off point sin, you don’t get to go to heaven when you die.” I asked: “What is that cut off point sin?”

And then one boy stood up.

I said: “Rupert,”

It was that kind of school.

I said: “Rupert, what is that cut off point sin?”

He answered: “Serious fraud”

I’ll never forget the way he said it. “Serious Fraud” And as soon as he said it, everybody burst out laughing.

Because it made us realize how ridiculous we were. As we, in our wisdom, decided once and for all, what God’s cut off point should be! We laughed because we all realized, we needed God to tell us what his cut off point is.

Actually God has told us what the cut off point is:

The Bible says: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We’re all cut off. We’re not perfect enough for a perfect heaven.

And the wages of sin is death. The punishment is death.

But because God loves us so much, he sent his son Jesus to die instead of us.

So when Jesus died on the cross, he died as our substitute.

So it’s a substitution. Let me illustrate that as best I can. In the Korean Civil War in the early 1950s, a boy was separated from his father. He’d run away from home as an act of rebellion. He wandered the streets of the city totally lost, with this dull ache inside him. He had a hunger within him for his father’s love. He couldn’t bear the separation. On a few occasions he was taken in and fed by families who took pity on him, but even though his stomach was filled with rice, he still felt emotional and spiritually empty. Sometimes he was tempted to give up the search for his Dad. Maybe finding his Dad alive and well in such a fierce war, was an impossible dream.

One day, he met a man he vaguely recognized. He was the pastor from the church in a nearby village. The kind Christian man recognized the boy and promised to re-unite him with his Dad. But, the pastor said, there’s one condition, you’re going to have to trust me completely. “I’m going to give you a piggy back. Are you willing to stay on board for as long as it takes?”

The boy climbed on board the pastor’s back and for the next four days they scoured the city as the Kim Il-Jong’s communists from the north fought against their opponents from the south.

On the fifth day, a communist army jeep raced up to the pastor. The driver had recognized him. The Pastor was identified as an anti-communist, and with the boy still on his back, the pastor was driven to a prison camp.

When they arrived, the pastor was told “Renounce your faith, or we’ll put a bullet in the back of the boy’s head. Renounce your faith or we’ll make the boy pay for the sins of your congregation, who opposed the communist invasion.”

“No, kill me instead.” The pastor pleaded.

The boy replied: “No! Why should you die? You’ve done nothing wrong. It was me who rebelled against my father. I’m the guilty one!”

But the pastor persuaded the communist guard to spare the boy, and kill him instead.

The pastor knelt down on the dirt floor. And put his hands on his head and waited for the bullet.

As he finally set the boy down off his back, having carried him for 4 days. The boy heard his name shouted across the prison camp. There was his Father, a fellow prisoner, running across the courtyard.

They ran to greet each other, and as father and son kissed and hugged and cried, a shot rang out as the pastor was executed.

A few months later the communist forces were driven back, and South Korea was freed.

And the boy became an evangelist. And this was his message: “If you will put childlike faith in Jesus. If you will cling to him, if you will put all your trust in him. If you will let him carry you, he will lead you back to your heavenly father. And your search will be over. And you will find what you’ve been looking for. Eventually the war will be over, and you will be free.

His message was: “Jesus came to take us back to God the father, but there was a cost. My pastor was shot in the back of the head for my sins. Jesus was crucified on a wooden cross for our sins.

Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Jesus knew the punishment for our sin was death, but because he loves us so much, he chose to take the punishment of death instead of us.

The Korean boy evangelist was one of thousands who quickly turned South Korea into what it is today, the world’s most heavily Christian nation.

He began sharing the message in the 1953, and was still doing the same in 2003.

He said: “In the 1950s, I used to preach my message to boys who were starving, now I preach it to adults who have everything. We are one of the most prosperous nations on earth. Everyone I preach to now has a new car, and digital everything. Yet the only thing that delivers real lasting satisfaction in the city of Seoul today is knowing God through Jesus. Otherwise you’re just stuffing the hole with friendships, video games, holidays and houses. However much you’ve got of those, you always want a tiny bit more.”

He said: “I can honestly say that I am totally satisfied. Jesus has given me joy, peace and contentment. I know he will never leave me or forsake me. I have one thing that is priceless. Unconditional love. The love of God, who sent Jesus. Jesus loved me enough to die for me. Just like my old pastor.

“I was the one who sinned. The punishment was death. But someone loved me enough to die in my place.”

Jesus humbled himself. And humility is not a characteristic that is greatly praised today. In our society, we honour the superman and the super model. We honour the bold and the beautiful. By stark contrast, Jesus sets before us the ideal of a little child, and the beautiful humility of dependence upon God.

When we look at these children, we should remind ourselves that child-likeness is Christ-likeness.

You know you could look out at this crowd and think that there’s a sea of single unmarried people here. Well it’s not as simple as that. We started this church with 20 people, and since then we’ve had a lot of people join us and a lot of weddings. Now our crèche is getting bigger and bigger. And these children who are being dedicated today are a yet another indication that Christ Church is growing up. And that is significant because . . .

Looking back about 100 years ago, there began then a sort of mass exodus of Christians from the city centres. Which has left us today with many great churches with lots of children outside the M25.

And so in central London churches today, there’s a sort of expectation that when Christians get married and start having children they will leave London. And I can understand the reasons for that.

And when I was preparing this message, I felt God speak to me about the children who in Matthew chapter 21 were shouting praise to Jesus in the temple area. They were shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David.” That is a prophetic picture of what we want to see here in this church. I felt this strongly for us as Christ Church, that it was children who in Matthew 21, praised Jesus for the miracles that he was doing. And when the religious authorities heard children, of all people, shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked Jesus. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ” ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?”
The scandal was children praising Jesus, children shouting in the temple area. Most unseemly, the authorities said. But Jesus quoted Psalm 8 back to them, reminding them that children will praise God. Because God’s planned it that way. They’ll praise him for rainbows, and sunshine and life, and they’ll praise Jesus if they are introduced to him.

And that’s why our children’s workers, work so hard and so well, with the small but increasing number of children we’ve got. You’re in a church where, thanks to our kids workers, our children really look forward to coming to church on Sundays. We have got something wonderful here, as a parent I just want to remind you of that. And I just wonder church whether you’d join me now in showing your appreciation to some of the unsung heroes of Christ Church, our kids workers, by giving them a round of applause.

APPLAUSE

Today, Jesus would take children, put them centre stage and remind us as Christ Church, that the Kingdom of God belongs to children and to child-like adults. We want to build a church where there’s something great for the children that God gives us.

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