Before my salvation as I was growing up and studying cultures and then traveling a lot, I mused that it sure was weird that every culture on earth that is and ever was had a spiritual side where the people worshiped something greater than themselves. And I wondered why so many cultures have a flood story and a creation story.
Now, we know that the spirit of these verses isn’t restricted to only actual children. The meaning here is Christians manifesting the spirit of childlike wonder and trust in God. We are as children to Jesus. But the verse meaning also encompasses kids.
The children would flock to Jesus and He rebuked the Apostles for rebuking the parents for allowing them to ‘interrupt’ Jesus. Children came to Him in humility, powerless in a low station in society, but loving wholly despite that. Children do not strut, they do not posture as the Pharisees did. They come because they have always responded to total love and heavenly truth.
The researchers at the Ian Ramsey Centre at the University of Oxford asked themselves the same questions, ‘Why is belief in supernatural beings so common?’ ‘Are there factors that contribute to the general tendency for people to believe in gods generally and God specifically?’ Turns out the answer is yes.
Why? “Because of the natural design of human minds. Human minds, under normal developmental conditions, have a strong receptivity to belief in gods, in the afterlife, in moral absolutes, and in other ideas commonly associated with ‘religion’. Further, our natural endowment goes a long way toward making religious rituals and other practices a nearly inevitable feature of human sociality. In a real sense, religiousness is the natural state of affairs. Unbelief is relatively unusual and unnatural.” Justin Barrett wrote a book summarizing in plain language this cognitive research, titled, “Why Would Anyone Believe in God?“
We are hardwired for God. We don’t need secular scientists to tell us that. It is life events, adults, and choosing unbelief that beats natural faith out of kids. Teaching them about Jesus isn’t jamming it down their throats. It is supporting a natural, hardwired tendency that already exists in them. To get a child NOT to believe what they already believe it takes hard work and years of indoctrination.
Romans 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
If we are hardwired for God then how did that happen if, as evolutionists say, we emerged from the primordial soup as a one-celled unthinking organism? Did evolution occur that included cognitive acceptance of a higher being? If evolution is true then that would have to be the case since all cultures worship greater beings in the supernatural realm.
But alas, we did not evolve to become cognitively hardwired for God. As children intuitively know, God created us and planted within us a seeking to know Him, because God desires to know us. He desires a relationship with His greatest creation: humans.
Jesus is serious about ensuring that the littlest and weakest among us are not caused to stumble, doubting new Christians and children included. “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Jesus says that pushing a child away from his faith will be punished. “To injure, or to cause to sin, the feeblest Christian, will be regarded by Christ as a most serious offence, and will be punished accordingly.” Source: Barnes’ Notes.
So be warned, shoving atheism down the children’s throats is considered a heavy offense. So is causing a new adult Christian to stumble, so be warned, false teachers. And strong or mature Christian parents, the Lord blesses you who raise children in the way they should go, and blesses those who teach and preach rightly so as to ‘water’ children and adults with the word.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6)