Review of Chapter 12, “The Children’s Champion: A Righteous Rage”
by Bonnie Deroski
In this chapter, the author shifts our focus from the details of his own life, to the times that Jesus related with children. I feel that this chapter really gets to the crux of the matter. Stafford makes it clear that Jesus’ attitude toward children was extraordinary, even in light of today’s culture. This chapter probably will hold no real surprises to those of us in ministry to children. However, it may prove to be a reminder of what it truly means to be a servant-leader, and may pose a challenge for those who find the behavior of children to be a disruption.
By providing background information, the author sheds some light on the passion behind the oft-quoted statement, “Let the little children come to me.” He walks us through the three other times that Jesus became so strongly adamant about his values: when he healed the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath, when he overturned the tables of the moneychangers, and when he put some children’s needs before those of his adult followers. He shows us Jesus, teaching in a large group and answering questions about the ‘adult topic’ of divorce. This Jesus is not concerned that adults are being distracted or interrupted by children during this serious, spiritual discussion. In fact, this Jesus becomes incensed and ultimately asks adults to do an about-face and look to the children for their example. Stafford reminds us that Jesus has now elevated the smallest child, with no rights or privileges, to a place of high esteem, and asks the ‘greatest’ among us to change our ways and become like this child.
Partway through the chapter, though, the author interjects several pages about child trafficking. I found the discussion to be a deviation from the point of the chapter. While this is certainly an important global issue which deserves attention, it might well have warranted a stand-alone chapter. The seriousness and enormity of the subject took away from the simple point that Jesus (and the author) seems to be making: Children should be cherished for their own intrinsic worth.