by Ruth DuCharme
published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 2/20/14
On Sunday evening, January 12, it was time for me to hold our annual Seekers in Sneakers class. This class is held once a year in January for our children who are interested in talking about making the commitment of becoming a Christian. This class is one of my high-joys as a Children's Minister. I approach it each year with feelings of deep respect for the responsibility that it demands and with a great sense of joy and delight for the refreshing way our children approach faith.
I must enter this classroom well prepared for the questions and inquiries that I will face. This class always begins with "Asking," for asking and seeking answers is the first step that children take towards faith in Christ. Yes, there are the typical questions like, "What is sin?" "Why did Jesus die on the cross?" and "How does Jesus live in my heart?" Then there are the practical things that children need to ask, like, "How wet will I get when I am baptized?" and "Will I get water up my nose?" "What do I say to the pastor when I walk down front to join the church?" and "How cold is the water in the baptistery?" So I sit in a circle with these children as they smack their gum and fiddle with their ball caps, and I am reminded of Christ's call for all of us to approach kingdom-life with a childlike faith. As I talk to the children about sin, death, forgiveness and belief, I realize that these aren't exactly child-friendly words. They are heavy words with even heavier meaning. They are concepts that require us to think deeply and open our hearts and minds to God's truths.
Then we get to the word "grace," and I tell them that grace is a gift. It is a gift that they cannot earn. It's not a birthday gift or a Christmas gift. It's a gift given to them for no other reason than that God loves them. I hold out my hands to them and say that the gift is for them whenever they choose to take it. It is at that point in the story when I see their eyes brighten and their shoulders relax. For you see, children understand gifts. Gifts excite them, and they know how to claim a gift for themselves.
Jesus encourages us to approach the kingdom of God like a child. As a matter of fact, he says, "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:4). Our children teach me many things, and one of their greatest lessons is that faith is a gift. They are eager to receive this gift. How eager are we to take this gift on a daily basis, claim it as our own and live it out in our words and actions?
Childlike faith—maybe we should be a little more like our children—seekers in sneakers who are searching for the gift of grace in our lives.