Children are so precious. They’re a treasure to be cherished.
Yet we live in a country and a culture where children are a problem to be avoided. I’m reminded of Matthew 19:13-15 when children were brought to Jesus, and the disciples rebuked the people. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Even when Jesus’ disciples saw children as a nuisance to be avoided, Jesus saw them as a treasure to be welcomed, to be received, to be loved, to be cherished.
Nine chapters later, in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says, “All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus has given His followers a clear commission.
So what does Jesus’ challenge in Matthew 28 have to do with Jesus’ value for children in Matthew 19? I think these passages have everything to do with each other. In a culture that devalues children, Jesus has given His followers a clear commission–
The Great Commission was clearly and definitively not a call to sit back and stay silent in a world of sin, evil, and suffering.
From the very beginning, Christ designed for His disciples to run toward need–not away from it–to engage culture, not to ignore it. Yet, the church may be one of the only organizations in the world to define success according to what we don’t do.
Discipling Christians involves propelling Christians into the world to risk their lives for the gospel. When this happens, the world around us becomes our focus and we gauge success in the church, not by the hundreds or even thousands who we can get to enter our buildings, but on the hundreds or even thousands that are leaving our buildings to take on the world with the power of the gospel.
God calls us to engage a broken world with a glorious gospel.
When men and women are brought from blindness to light–spiritual death to spiritual life–everything changes. God has uniquely designed and equipped His church to care for children and their mothers. There’s a reason why James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.“
Obedience to the Great Commission, then, has massive implications for social transformation. The fruit of faithful disciple-making–the salvation of souls–has inevitable transformation on people’s lives and families and communities. If that’s true, then we can’t keep this good news to ourselves.
We cannot be content to sit back as casual cultural Christians who spend the majority of our Christian lives as spectators in services that cater to our comforts.
This is not God’s design for His church. He does not call us to sit in one location. He commands every one of us to go, baptize, and make disciples in all the nations. Nations filled with impoverished communities, abandoned orphans, lonely widows, and over 100,000 babies dying in the womb every single day.
So let us do something. And in obedience to this commission from Christ, the nations will see the compassion of Christ for unwanted children.
David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington D.C. And he’s the author of the NYT Best Seller Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.