The stories of the radical Islamic group ISIS indiscriminately and sometimes intentionally killing children has been on my mind these days, especially as we focus on children during the Christmas season. It is hard to comprehend what it takes for an adult to kill children for whatever reason but it is mostincomprehensible when it is done to make an ideological/political statement tothe world. Boko Haram continues to kidnap girls and sell them as wives orslaves, treating them in an inhuman manner for their own pleasure and profit,and to spread their religion. Christian girls are forced into Islam,disappearing forever from their Christian families. It is a cruel andunthinkable method of proselyting.
The mistreatment of children is not a new phenomenon—it is even a part of the Christmas story. When Jesus was born he was already under the threat of being killed by King Herod. He was a threat to the existing order, and Herod would seek to keep his position no matter what it took to do it. When the wise men failed to return to Herod with the news as to where Jesus was located, Herod ordered the killing of boys two years and younger in and around Bethlehem. Inthe middle of the glorious picture of the baby born in a manger and worshipped by shepherds and wise men is the gut-wrenching story of the killing of innocentchildren. Jeremiah’s words about the bitter weeping of Rachel for the loss ofher children is especially gripping because in many ways it is being reenactedover and over again in our time.
Jesus treated children like important, valuable human beings, worth the time to be with them and to nurture them. This attitude pervades many Christian organizations which seek to help and support destitute orphans who are left in a helpless state by uncaring and hostile adults. Christian children are also subjected to severe difficulties when their parents are killed for their faith and they are left orphans. They not only suffer the trauma of losing parents but they become especially vulnerable since they have no way to provide for their basic needs.
I often pray that those who commit such atrocities against the innocent suffer in their hearts and consciences for their actions. I pray that God’s Spirit will convict them of their sins and that they not be able to sleep at night until they turn to Christ. Only God can penetrate their hard hearts and their very dark minds but it has been done and God can reach them. In the meantime, we need to step in and take care of God’s children. It can be a dangerous world for them.