From the Worldwide Faith News archives

'God belongs to children'

Date 21 Jun 2002 08:03:27 -0400

Note #7306 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:


'God belongs to children'

by Frank Buhrman

COLUMBUS, OH - When Jesus rebuked his disciples for trying to turn away children, He was in fact saying that God belongs to them.

"I've always loved the story about Jesus and the mean old disciples," Roger Nishioka told a full-house audience at the Presbyterian Children's Homes and Related Ministries luncheon Thursday during the 214th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

That's because Christ's message went beyond saying, "for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs." (Matthew 19:14)

"The kingdom of heaven is a euphemism for God," he said.

Nishioka, associate professor of Christian education at Columbia Theological Seminary, also received PCHARM's Children's Champion Award for 2002.

He chose "Who Owns God?" as the title for his talk.  He related numerous biblical passages that say people belong to God, but only in the story of His blessing the little children does Jesus turn the tables.

"It is such as these (children) to whom God belongs," he said, and there is a reason.

Nishioka illustrated his point with stories of children displaying a wisdom not immediately apparent to adults - until they stop and pay attention.

"I think they 'get' God in a way that we adults do not and cannot," Nishioka said.  "That's why all that we do with children is so important.  We need them to help us 'get' God.

"That's why PCHARM and other ministries are so important."
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