“[Jesus said], ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.’” – Matthew 18:3-6
I remember loading my car at the end of a long week of seminary classes and wondering how in the world I was going to get it all done. As I went back to my room for my final load of “stuff,” I saw a teen-aged babysitter with two very small children. One of the children was so new to walking that she toddled back and forth like a fat duck. They approached the crest of a steep hill that over looked the seminary baseball diamond. The hill was a difficult descent for adults, much less children. For the youngest child, so new to walking, it was absolutely out of the question.
I watched, wondering how the teen would safely get them down the hill. When they neared the crest, she turned and exclaimed, “Oh look! Here is a very steep hill! Do you know how to go down steep hills like this?” The children watched her with wide eyes as she lay down in the grass. “Lay like this, and put your hands over your head. Then you roll, roll, roll!” She rolled over several times, stopped, and crawled back up to the crest of the hill.
Immediately the face of the older child broke out in a grin, and he rolled to the bottom of the hill with great glee. But the younger child, watching very carefully, was still unsure. Sensing the child’s fear the sitter gently responded, “You know what – let’s roll down that hill – together!”
Scooping the child into her arms, both lay down, and rolled as one. It was pure joy to watch them! The sitter was careful to arrange her own body so that the child was protected, but did so without diminishing the experience of rolling for the child. Together, body over body, they rolled as a unit until they reached the bottom of the hill. The small child got up on her feet by herself – wobbly, but obviously very pleased with herself!
As I marveled at the ingenuity of that young sitter, it occurred to me that it should also be like that in the Church. Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, not just offer programming. Our ministry is more rela-tional than it is task-oriented. We need each other. We are to care and nurture each other in the Faith, both receiving and giving as needed, such that the Body of Christ is built up in the name of Jesus Christ. To do anything less than this is to become a stumbling block, especially for those who are new to walking in Christ. The purpose of the Church is not to be a consumer service or a charity or a philanthropic organization. We are the Body of Christ. Keep on rolling!!
See you in worship!
Yours for the Journey (hills and all),