Jesus Loves “Bad Kids”

By Gala Castaños – Outreach Worker – Kingston-Galloway

I believe that there is no such thing as a “bad kid”. Sometimes, I do admit it is furiously tempting to slap a label on that one or two difficult kids that are in constant defiance, kicking, screaming and cursing you with every swear word on the planet- but when it really boils down to it, the real issue is the behaviour; not who they are.

As adults, we tend to create an invisible barrier between us and kids. Oftentimes, I hear a lot of adults look down on kids – complaining about their behaviour, attitude, how they can’t sit still, how much mess they make, how they can’t pay attention properly, how they can’t read or spell the correct way, how they never tidy up or clean their room, etc., and the list goes on. When we label kids ‘bad’, we are essentially telling them that they are not worth caring for, or being loved. We are silently saying that no one will ever look past all their behaviour and love them for who they are. It’s like living life being criticized for every mistake that you have made and will continue to make. We often subtly criticize the fact that they are ‘just kids’ and fail to realize that in spite of all our developmental differences; our hearts are very much the same.

This view of children is not reflective of the Gospel.

In moments of weakness and frustration, children need to be understood as much as any other adult. In moments of heartbreak and failure, children need to be reaffirmed with a sense of value and purpose just as any adult. In moments of confusion and chaos, children need to be firmly anchored in a spiritual framework that gives them clarity- as much as any adult. Children need Jesus just as much as adults. Adults need Jesus just as much as children. There is no barrier when it comes to the deepest needs of the human heart.

Matthew 19 lays out the passage where Jesus blesses the children. Most portraits of this event depict perfectly still and precious babies and toddlers playing gently on Jesus’ lap. Somehow, this doesn’t seem quite accurate. When Jesus said “let the children come to me”, I picture a rowdy crowd of squirmy, dirty, rambunctious, snotty nosed, teary eyed, drooling, gap toothed, knee scraped kids rushing up to see their King. And somehow, this mental picture of a group of dirty, imperfect little ones doesn’t seem so foreign after all– it looks a lot like the rest of us raggedy, sinful grown-ups coming before Jesus too.

Our view of the Gospel greatly shapes and challenges how we understand and look at children. The Gospel gives us a beautiful framework in helping us to value children for who they are – not what they have done. It ushers us into the truth that there are no hindrances or barriers between us and Christ as “the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”. It shows us a mirror image; a reflection of God’s redemption in our lives as we are accepted on the basis of His love; not the absence of our failures.

How has the Gospel shaped your view of the children in your life?