Suffer the Little Children: Getting Personal With Christianity
When the Savior stood among the people of Nephi, He called for the children to come to Him so that He could bless each one individually. What was the significance of that act? What does the Savior mean when He says to “suffer the children to come unto” Him? Let us explore together what the Savior meant and see if we do not gain understanding into each of our roles, individually in suffering the Children.
I was on a social media site, as always, when I saw the phrase to suffer the children. I always thought I knew what it meant. To my understanding, it meant to allow the children to go toward to the Savior. It meant to present them to the Savior without hindering them in any way. I then felt a tug at my mind and a new concept entered into it—one that everyone else may be aware of save me. Suffering the children means so much more than avoiding to prevent them from going to the Lord. I started to see a web of behavior that if I and all of us do not engage we are not suffering the children to go to Christ.
I would not dream of blocking a child’s progress towards Christ! In our behavior, however, do we stand as a stone of stumbling? In our words, do we close the path off that leads to the Holy One? With our entertainment, do we prevent a child from feeling His grace through the spirit?
Yes, there is more to suffering the children to come to Christ than I initially considered. To suffer or allow the children to come unto Christ means that I must come unto Christ. I am a child of His. Who am I to prevent, me, a child of God from coming unto Christ and therefore preventing a young child or children from going to Him?
Come Unto Christ
What does it mean to come unto Christ? I served as a missionary in the Cape Town South Africa mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (I am certain that mostly LDS Christians are reading this article. If you are not, just find a couple of missionaries or a member of the Church to answer any cultural items you do not understand. You could always go online too!) In that mission, my first area was in Umtata in the Western Cape. I am told that Nelson Mandela is from that area, though not the city itself. That area is important to me because it is where I noticed the invitation of the Savior to Come unto me (Him).
Now, I italicized it because of how significant that statement became to me at that time in my life. Here I was in a foreign land teaching people about what I believe to be true! I was teaching them to come unto to Jesus Christ! I was the one doing the inviting! Who were they coming to? They were coming to me!
While I was in Umtata, I issued many invitations. Some were accepted. Though I had joined the Church and was at the time serving a mission, I am sure I understood the coming to Christ process at least a little during that time. I heard this song from the Seminary sound track for the New Testament. It was
I heard this song from the Seminary soundtrack for the New Testament. It was Come Unto Him. I fell in love with the song and I wanted to hear it every day! The words brought me to tears. There was nothing about the performer of that song that screamed “Big Celebrity” to me when I heard it. There was, however, a burning feeling that entered my heart when I heard the words.
In my mind, I pictured the Savior standing in the distance. My path was clear before my feet which led to Him. When the singer melodiously provided the invitation to come unto Him, in my heart I went. In my heart now as I type I feel the desire to be more holy just because I know more what the invitation means now! It means that I need to change my life to be in harmony with the teachings of Christ and follow the examples that he provided through the scriptures and other people. Now that was something!
I have already decided to be baptized into the Church. I have already promised to tell people about it and represent it, the Church. Why do I think I needed to do more to come to Christ, to go to Christ? Apparently, the 2014 theme for the youth of the Church was this phrase. It is the name of a song, other than the one in the New Testament Sound Track. I googled the title and listened to the song as I typed this article. Tears came to my eyes because I knew exactly what it meant to come unto to Christ. The invitation comes from my heart as I have accepted Him as my Savior when I was baptized and confirmed a member of the church. Now that I have made that great step, He wants me to be like Him. I come to Him by making changes that turn me into a savior, as He is the Savior.
Salvation Through Andy Griffith?
Now, I know this sounds strange to some, but it is the truth. I sat thinking after reading the words on the social media site. I had been very worldly in my form of entertainment for so long and it bothered me that there was so much filth out there to look at. I decided to look at the Andy Griffith Show because of John Bytheway. It came up as if a beacon to me to pull me out of the black abys of worldly showdom. I just made that word up and I am keeping it!
I clicked on the show, using Netflix, and I began with the first episode. I did not think I would enjoy it but I did. I went to the second episode and enjoyed it. I stopped and evaluated myself and found that I felt like I had been cleaned! I kid you not! It felt like the show scrubbed all the bad thoughts and images I allowed myself to experience away. It worked! I discovered in that moment if I put wholesome entertainment in my life that I feel better. If I put questionable entertainment in my life, I feel… well, questionable. If I put bad entertainment… you get the picture I hope.
Nephi taught that if we ask the Lord for anything that is good, God would grant that thing to us if we do so sincerely. In fact, Nephi is very explicit about this. He recorded, “Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” (1 Nephi 15:11) Now, here Nephi was talking to Laman and Lemuel who were wroth that the mysteries of God were not revealed to them without effort. Nephi reminded them that in order to get answers to their prayers they had to have faith AND keep the commandments—something which they tended to do at their leisure if they did it at all, or by compulsion.
My heart, my spirit asked the Lord a question that I was not aware of at the time. My spirit wanted to know how to get back to the way I was when I was new to the gospel. The Lord kept throwing hints my way until I finally got it.
Have you ever considered what it means to Suffer the Children?
Now it is Your turn!
God gives no commandment to us that He is not willing to provide detailed instructions on how we can fulfill that commandment. Nephi has instructed us so and I can testify that it is true for all of us no matter our religion or circumstance.
Moroni teaches us that we must lay hold on every good thing. He then asks the question how to do that. He gives us the simple answer, which I am saddened in my heart to reveal because it is so simple that people will disregard it. Moroni, Nephi, and many other prophets taught and still teach that by small and simple things do great things come about.
The way to lay hold on to good things, to Christ and His teachings is through FAITH. Faith that Christ can do what He promised He would. He went to heaven to prepare a place for His followers. Believe Him. He promised us that He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father any other way. Believe Him. He promises us that He will share all that our Father in Heaven gives Him. Trust and Believe Him. He promised that anything we ask in His holy name of the Father with faith that we shall receive it, if it is right. Test it. Use faith to work out your salvation before God with respect and humility.
I adapt the words of King Benjamin: Believe in God. Believe that He is (exists), and that He created all things, both in heaven and in earth. Believe that He has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth. Believe that man (humanity’s wisdom) doth not comprehend all the things, which the Lord can comprehend.
Believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God. Ask in sincerity of heart that He would forgive you (of your sins). And now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them. (Reference Mosiah 4:9-10)
Brothers and sisters; come unto Christ and be perfected in Him and deny yourselves the vices of this world. Be perfected in Christ through repentance and service. And if through these things you find that you are perfect, or complete in His love you cannot deny His power or influence in you—nor would you want to do so. (Reference Moroni 10:32)
We suffer the little children to come unto Christ by how we live our lives and show them our devotion to all that is good and lovely in the world. We suffer or put aside our vanities so that they can have a chance to see what it means to be a true disciple of Christ. We suffer, or humble ourselves before the children letting them know that we have a higher power who we look to for guidance.