Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Parking Ticket And The Fate Of Children

This is a long post in which I am simply working through a long-time question. I don't claim to be a Biblical scholar, and what I've written is simply the understanding to which God has led me at this point. I'd love to read your thoughts on the subject...

Last week Mark and I loaded up the kids and drove to Washington D.C. We had meticulously planned an itinerary for the four days we'd be visiting our nation's capitol. Upon our arrival the first day, we drove around for no less than thirty minutes, looking for a parking spot near the Washington Monument. Finally, we found a spot just across the street from the monument. The sign next to our parking spot read something to the effect of Three-hour parking until 4:00. We assumed that after 4:00, there was no time limit on parking. Since it was about 2:00 when we parked, we weren't concerned about passing the three-hour limit.

We walked block after block until about 6:00, then headed back to our car. As we approached the street where our car was parked, we quickly realized there were no cars parked where we'd left ours. Our always-observant middle child was the first to exclaim, "Our car's not there!" Then, "Hey! There's our car! Why's it on the grass on the wrong side of the street?" Gulp. It only took a second to realize our car had been towed to the opposite side of the street. Obviously, there was NO parking after 4:00 on the other side of the street. When we reached the car, we found a $100 ticket snuggled tightly under the wiper blade.

Mark and I immediately started complaining:

We didn't know.
The sign didn't say No parking after 4:00.

The next day, I was thinking about the ticket and wondering why we were penalized for breaking a law we didn't even realize existed. Of course we're going to write a letter of admission and plead ignorance, but I'm guessing we'll still have to pay the full cost of the ticket. Not fair! Not fair!

{stick with me...I'm about to make a big, leaping transition}

I've often wondered about the fate of a young child who dies. I've always been told that young children go to heaven, but I've also always been told that there's an "age of accountability." So I've often wondered what that age is. Then there are the verses about children:

And (Jesus) said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  (Matt. 18:3-4, NIV)

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16, NIV)

So...what of the child who's never prayed the sinner's prayer of salvation? {I could go off into an entire new topic here on the "sinner's prayer" which, by the way, is not in the Bible. But I'll stick with the original subject.} What of the child who's never made the conscious decision to believe?

I guess my question has been this: If children are born with a sin nature, and God hates sin, how does one enter heaven without redemption? For instance, my youngest child has yet to pray the sinner's prayer that I've always assumed meant salvation. While I occasionally talk to her about sin, she still doesn't "get it." She talks about going to heaven when she dies. She says she loves God and Jesus. She prays sweet, little prayers. There's still a lack of understanding on her part about confession. She simply believes God loves her, and she loves Him. She hasn't rejected Christ...she just hasn't reached the crossroads of understanding where she must make a conscious decision to reject or accept.

When we parked on the street, we broke the law in ignorance; but once we understood the law, we recognized why we were being penalized. We also understood our need to plead for mercy, and if denied, to pay the cost.

I assume the term age of accountability refers to the time when a child moves from ignorance to understanding. Until children understand there's Law, a penalty, a Savior, and a need for mercy, they simply must be covered by God-grace. My child's simple faith in a God who loves her and a simple faith that God hears her prayers and will answer must be the childlike qualities Jesus was referring to in the above verses.

Simple, trusting {childlike} faith...

What are your thoughts on this topic?


  1. I believe children are safe, no matter what they pray or not pray. It is the hearts condition, my grand daughter 'knew and loved God' at an early age of three. She didn't have theology she didn't have the concept of bible truths, she only knew Jesus loves me and I love him.
    I have no doubt in my mind if she would have 'died' she would be in the arms of the Lord.
    She did tell me one time,"I am not going to be five, I am going to be with Jesus." I quickly told her she could have Jesus in her heart and be with him and still be five. She is now age 12 and wants to be baptized.
    It is a 'cause' of debate but I personally believe, anyone, who believes in their heart, whether they say a 'believers prayer or not' they can be saved. It is the condition of their heart that is the key.

  2. I was always taught that there was "safe,saved and lost". Saved are those children who don't get the relationship with Jesus. The saved are those obviously who are but those people who are incapable, mentally, to make that profession of faith. Then the lost are the lost. That is how I have raised my children. I don't know if this is right but it makes sense to me and I see the Bible in all of it. Love ya!