“And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (Reference: Matthew 18:3-7)
Some interesting connections being made by the historic Anabaptist (Menno Simons) being quoted today. Simons has appropriated these verse on behalf of “ . . . the poor, reckless people. . .” who are being encouraged and strengthened “in their idolatry and unbelief” by “all founders of sects and their erring spirits, who cloak their refusal to bear the cross and their ease and hypocrisy under the semblance of the Word of God . . “ It may seem, beloved, that I am piecing together quotes to make it sound like I want to, but I tell you truthfully, this is an accurate reconstruction of what Simons said! He also said of the founders of sects and their erring spirits, “They grieve the pious unto death, weaken and cause to stumble the poor wavering souls . . “ But no where, beloved, does Simons mention that this protection should be afforded children!
I had made a comment yesterday that Anabaptists/Mennonites of many eras appropriate and use texts for many purposes. But we try (at least my colleagues and contemporaries) to stay faithful to the intent of the verses. What Simons has passed over is that Jesus is talking about the young and innocent who believe in Jesus and God. Young innocent faith is not necessarily wavering faith nor reckless in nature. And most certainly not idolatrous!
Beloved, let us set aside Simons usage of these verses – indeed you might ask why I quote him at all! While Simons might have missed the mark on who these verses exhort us to protect and shield, his vehemence for protection and care is quite appropriate. I agree completely with his final question, “Tell us, dear friends, how can men [and women] include in Christian liberty that which is committed so evidently against so many passages in the Scriptures, against brotherly [and sisterly love] and universal love, and contrary to the example of so many saints?”
May you beloved not cause one innocent to sin! And may you as a child of God be protected from others. Selah!