“Start your day with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” It’s good advice and it’s been my practice for several years. John Stott called it “dual listening” . . . listening to the world to know the world’s need, and then listening to the Word in order to know how to bring the Light of the World to bear on the darkness. And, I did that two mornings ago. . .
I read that passage in Matthew 18 where the disciples ask Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus responds with an object lesson that features a child and a call to child-like humility. Powerful.
But then Jesus adds this warning: “. . . whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” The meaning of Jesus’ words in this context extend far beyond a warning regarding misdirecting those of a very young age. But I couldn’t help but think about our vulnerable children and teens when I read this passage on Tuesday morning.
You see, after reading what Jesus said in this passage, I found and read Lisa Bloom’s short online piece entitled, “How To Talk To Little Girls.” Bloom writes, “I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are.”
We do that, don’t we? “Oh, look at your cute hair!” “I love your dress!” “Where’d you get that pretty outfit?” etc. etc. Then, we teach them to grow up spending day in and day out focusing time and money on tending to their outward rather than inward selves. And when we do it, we sincerely think we’re doing a good thing, don’t we? But is it possible that rather than building them up, we are building them idols that they will worship, follow, and serve for the rest of their lives? Bloom says that “teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything” . . . and we all know that our culture – young and old alike – is obsessing over (worshiping) body image, body shape, clothing styles, and “beauty.”
Could it be that we are unknowingly building and encouraging idol worship in our kids when our calling is to lead them into a lifetime of worshiping “no other gods?” If that’s the case, then we are doing exactly what Jesus said is so horrifyingly wrong. . . causing one, many, or an entire generation of children and teens to sin. Sadly, then the millstone winds up being better for us.