Children and the Worth of All Persons
The worth of all persons is one of the enduring principles of the Community of Christ. Throughout the New Testament, the worth of all persons emerges as one of the central themes of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus taught an egalitarian ethic that transcended numerous societal barriers: gender, age, wealth/poverty, health, piety/sinfulness, ethnicity, family unit, and much more. He resisted the system of domination that was the norm in his day and instead taught his followers to observe principles of servant leadership. Oppression was prohibited in the Jesus Community:
42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45. (See also Matthew 20:25-26, Luke 22:24-27 for parallels).
Jesus did more than just speak on behalf of the oppressed, he modeled behavior that showed people how to cross traditional lines of discrimination. Jesus was widely reported to have elevated the importance and worth of children through the action of laying on of hands and blessing of children despite the rebuke of some of his followers:
13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16 (See also: Luke 18:15-17, Matthew 19:13-14 for parallels).
In fact, when Jesus disciples were arguing about who was the greatest among them. Jesus turned their thinking upside down by taking a child in his arms:
33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ 36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’ Mark 9:33-36 (See also Matthew 18:1-14, Luke 9:46-48 for parallels).
In the Community of Christ, our church seal depicts Isaiah 11: A lion and lamb are seated peaceably beside one another and are led by a child. In upholding the worth of all persons, we value the role, ideas and contributions of children and are committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for spiritual growth as a part of a child’s development.
Among the sacraments offered by the church is the “blessing of children.” Following the example of Jesus, a child up to seven years of age is brought by the parents before the congregation and the elders lay their hands on the head of the child and say a public prayer. Beginning at age eight, the child may choose for themselves to be baptized and confirmed as full members of the church. “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.”
Spiritual Practices for Today
Download or open the Community of Christ app on your smartphone or visit www.cofchrist.org to read today’s Daily Bread and Prayer for Peace.
After reading the Daily Bread article, consider these questions:
How does the prophetic voice call you to heal others?
How does the prophetic voice call you to healing of the environment?
Pray: God of Peaceful Humanity, you are the blessed Creator and Restorer of justice and peace. May we be co-creators of your peaceful reign on earth even as we imagine your perfect reign in heaven. May each one receive what is needed for just wants and needs. We seek your forgiveness when we fall short of your divine will for us. Help us to choose wisely that we might fully share in your peaceful humanity. Amen.
The phrase is repeated again when the resurrected Christ appears to the disciples in John 20:19-21:
19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’
What word or phrase caught your attention in this passage?
Read the passage again. How is this passage speaking to you today?
Pray the Mission Prayer: God, where will your Spirit lead today? Help me be fully awake and ready to respond. Grant me the courage to risk something new and become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.
2021 Guiding Question: Are we moving towards Jesus, the peaceful One?