We are drawn to stories of children. We see ourselves in their faces and we naturally want to care for and protect them.
When children are threatened we want to respond. We want to do...something.
Our children belong to all of us and we each have a role to play in making their lives safe and sustaining. God's justice calls us to this task.next >
"If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!
"If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire."
Matthew 18:6-9next >
We have a tendency to interpret today's verses only spiritually, but there was also an actual physical child in the presence of Jesus as he taught those words. His words were meant as words of protection both spiritually and physically, because in his hearers' understanding there was no separation between the two. Jesus is saying to cut off sin before it happens, and to not lead others into sin. He singles out those who harm “little ones” as a special category of sinner.
Earlier this week, we said that 2.9 million child abuse cases are reported in the U.S. annually. Unfortunately, studies show that those who are abused are at greater risk of becoming abusers. Sexually abused girls run away from home and become prostituted. Children are forced to fight in wars by adults. Eighty percent of trafficking victims are used for sexual purposes.
How can we be like Jesus and confront those who harm the world’s “little ones?" How can you join with others to confront those who keep others from thriving?
Laura Rectornext >
Jesus, thank you for being both the Giver of life and the God who wants God's people to thrive. Help me to cut off sin in my life and to confront those who hurt others. Amen.next >
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
For information about this series and ways to get involved, read this blog post by Passport's co-found, David Burroughs.
Laura Rector serves as a member of the adjunct faculty at Fuller Theological Seminary. She also has taught homeless preschoolers and served in cross-cultural ministries in the United States and Asia.