What could possibly ruin such wonderful, child-like trust in God?
Sadly, it’s very possible for a child to grow up in a faith community, learn lots of Bible stories, sing lots of wonderful songs, memorize plenty of Scripture verses, say all the right things, look good—very good—and yet lose his or her faith.
Sometimes, it’s the individual’s own choice.
Sometimes, however, it’s because of the sinful, terrible choices of adults the child should have been able to trust.
Scripture couldn’t be clearer that anyone who repeatedly or severely harms a boy or girl or young adult by sinning against them—physically, psychologically, socially, sexually, or spiritually—is in grave danger of God’s judgment. Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 18, verses 5 and 6:
5 And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is
welcoming me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who trusts in me
to lose faith [or be harmed by sin], it would be better for that person to be
thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck (NLT).
Believe me, ancient Jewish men feared drowning above all else. Even experienced fishermen like Peter and Andrew, James and John were scared to death of drowning. Sure, some like Peter could swim. But that wasn’t a given. There certainly was no Michael ben Phelps back then. Even if there were, imagine a judge ordering a crew of Roman sailors to take you 10 miles out into the Mediterranean Sea, tie a 100-pound milestone tied around your neck, and send you to the bottom of Davy Jones’ locker.
Peter and his fellow disciples shuddered at the thought. It should make us shudder too. Why? Because Jesus warns each and every one of us that such a fate would be much better than causing a child to lose his or her faith in Jesus Christ.
The point Jesus is making is crystal clear: Don’t let your attitudes, your words, and/or your actions soil or steal the God-given faith of a child.
But perhaps Jesus’ warning should also cause us to think of other smaller ways we can cause children to begin to lose faith—by our critical attitudes, hypocrisy, self-centered living—anything that doesn’t truly reflect Christ-like, child-like kingdom living.
I’m not talking about being perfect. Instead, I’m saying that a child’s faith grows, not diminishes, when an adult apologizes to the child for, say, losing his or her temper.
What’s your story? Did adults build up or wreck your God-given faith as a child? I invite you to tell me your story.