But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.
God has a tender spot in his heart for children. He says in Matthew 19:14 "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Jesus came into the world as a baby by God’s divine plan. God needed someone innocent and pure to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins, and nothing speaks purity and innocence as clearly as a baby born of a virgin. But Jesus also came as a baby threatened by Herod, to remind us of our responsibility to protect children. As we read the story of Jesus’ birth in the gospels, it is easy to identify Herod as the enemy. It is quite easy to see that Herod is a danger to the baby in the manger; and to God’s plan for humanity. The Wise men see it too and after visiting the baby Jesus in that stable in Bethlehem, they choose to go back a different way to avoid revealing where the baby lay. The Wise men, demonstrate to us today, that it is wise to be on God’s side in protecting children.
It is 2018 and that Herodian spirit is thriving in our culture and in our world, and it is threatening our children. Statistics are hard to come by, but the International Labor Organization estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked annually. In the United States, an average of 46 children disappear into the sex-trade every single day. And that’s happening out there, but the danger also lurks within our homes, hiding behind blue screens, masquerading in bright colors, quick change scenery and in violent action. The spirit of deceit and distortion has found its way into children’s storybooks and coloring books; it’s on the television in children’s cartoons and in videogames; it is easily accessed on cell-phones and other electronic gadgets; it has permeated the classrooms, school hallways and schoolyards. Our children have become prey; they are afraid to go to school because they might get shot.
God’s word reminds us that, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him (Psalm 127:3).” A good steward takes care of their gift. Are you taking care of yours? May God grant us the wisdom and desire to protect children from the modern- day Herodian spirit that threatens to consume them. May he grant us the grace to nurture them in the way they should go, so that when they are older they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). And may he give us the discipline to pray for children everywhere, starting with our own households.
Father, we commit our children to you. Protect them by the power of the blood shed on the cross. Give us a heart of compassion that can comprehend the magnitude of the threats against the children; and fill us with the assurance that we are not alone in this battle. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.