While Still a Child

The children in Livingstone receiving communion. 


2Chr. 34:1   Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign; he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2 He did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of his ancestor David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left. 3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still a boy, he began to seek the God of his ancestor David, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the sacred poles, and the carved and the cast images. 4 In his presence they pulled down the altars of the Baals; he demolished the incense altars that stood above them. He broke down the sacred poles and the carved and the cast images; he made dust of them and scattered it over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and purged Judah and Jerusalem. 6 In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, and as far as Naphtali, in their ruins all around, 7 he broke down the altars, beat the sacred poles and the images into powder, and demolished all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem.


Josiah’s life is an invitation to see what God can do through the innocent faith of a child. He was only eight years old when he became king but he must have taken the time to study and to listen with an earnest heart. By the time he was sixteen, while he was still considered a child, but he took a passionate interest in following the God of David. Because of all of this, when he was 20 he began to show real leadership that transformed the nation during his rule. The spiritual sensitivity of a child, nurtured by those around him, became essential to lead a nation. 


Sometimes I wonder whether we underestimate the influence of children in our world. I’m sure that when Josiah became king at eight there were many who discounted that he would ever develop into a leader of significance. Considering the way the nation had turned her back on God, the fact that this child could be the one to set them on a new path may have been just the hopeful wish of a few. 

This makes us stop and consider how we think about and treat our children. I know that some people believe that children are too young to make any kind of significant decision regarding faith, and yet, it is in those early years that so much of faith formation takes place. This requires the intentional investment of adults in the lives of these children, showing them the way to Christ. Also, it means that we recognize that even while still children, they can be making significant decisions regarding their own lives and of those around them. 

A couple of weeks ago I was in Zambia and at the close of our gathering we were serving the Lord’s supper. Part of the teaching I had done was regarding the presence of grace in the sacraments. The pastors and leaders were in the front of the room, but the back was filled with children. The Caravan program is very strong there and young children are trained up to be leaders. They had been listening in and participating in all that we were doing. 

To serve the Lord’s supper we had trays of bite-sized bread and small glasses with juice. People came forward to be served by our District Superintendents and other pastors. But then I noticed the children standing at the back of the room, looking longingly toward the communion table. I asked one leader about inviting the children and I was told that no children under 15 were allowed to participate. At that moment the Field Strategy Coordinator came forward and said “no, the children are welcome to come to the table.” There weren’t enough elements prepared for the children but there was a loaf of bread and juice in a cup on the table. The children eagerly lined up to come to the table and with wide eyes listened as we told them that Jesus loved them. I tore bread and dipped it in the juice, sharing the meal with the children. Suddenly I felt overwhelmed with emotion and I heard the Scripture, “suffer the little children and forbid them not…” My eyes welled up with tears. With sincere hearts the children came, seeking the God of all the adults who were present. The hearts of the pastors were moved, some testifying that they would never view children and their participation in the sacraments the same.  

Children are a genuine gift to us from God. Their innocence and love overflow and can help to lead all of us to the Father. Let’s respect them, even “when still a child.” 


Lord, thank you for the voices of little children who can innocently show us the way.  Amen. 


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