I've been traveling through the Book of Matthew with my weekly Bible study and even though I've done Bible studies for years, I feel like I'm getting to know Jesus even better than I did before. It's changing the way I'm looking at my life, my family, and our world which is probably good as the Lord instructs us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds through Scripture.
Yesterday's shooting events leave us slack jawed once again at the evil and destruction that continues to plague our country. And once again, news and social media erupt in arguments about how to solve the problem of mass killings - some advocate for gun control, some advocate for harsher penalties, some want better mental health options for young people...the list goes on and on.
Upon reading the varying opinions and perspectives of all my friends from all ends of the spectrum, I am reminded over and over of the verses in Matthew where Jesus teaches but also warns and chastises His disciples to "let the little children come to Me, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19:14) It's pretty clear here that Jesus values children and wants adults to value them, too. They are so valuable in fact, that He says the kingdom of heaven BELONGS to them. The kingdom does not belong to the adults with all the wisdom and rules and savvy and money...it's the innocent ones who God wants to have His kingdom.
I don't think anyone would disagree that in the last 30 years or so, our little ones have taken a back seat in our society. We live under the illusion that fancier technology, better sports options and more sophisticated lifestyles and education have provided a better way of life for our kids when in fact most of them feel more disengaged from parents (who work mind numbing endless hours to afford this life for the their kids), kids are depressed and suicidal and alarming rates; pornography and sex are hurled at our kids at the most tender ages. While thinking we've provided a better life, the care takers have allowed the monstrous idols of our advanced society to swallow up our little ones...so you have one who is so damaged he makes the choice to annihilate and you have the many whose lives are destroyed. Let's face it, some of these kids aren't choosing to kill others, they're choosing to kill themselves at alarming rates. It's all destruction.
Prior to Matthew 19, Jesus gives a strong warning to the disciples. He says, "but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin (fall or stumble), it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." There's going to be a big price to pay for the ones who cause these little ones to stumble and fall. For the ones who allow them access to the destruction. For the ones who take away their chance to live in the first place. Yes, it goes both ways. We can't say we value the life of teens but allow the weapons of surgery to maim and dismember the littlest of the little ones especially when science tells us those little ones feel that pain. It's all destruction and it's all causing them to fall and everyone of us is going to have answer for that.
What it often comes down to is the powerful believing their rights supersede the rights of the less powerful. My right to own my gun is more important than the safety of some children or my right to undo a mistake I made is more valuable than the life that will be ended. I don't even know where I put my stake in the ground on some of these issues but I do know that my Lord and Savior says, "these little ones matter and they matter the most." No amount of wealth, education, lawmaking, science, or ethics erases this fact or the fact that God will hold us all accountable for how we treated the children.
I don't know all the answers, I just know that the kids need to come first. Our nation has a lot of tough choices to make and we can not continue to contradict ourselves and we cannot continue to allow the idols of wealth, sex, drugs, education, science, self-reliance etc etc to replace God and His will for our lives. Jesus came for us to have an abundant life. Many are afraid to embrace Him and His teaching because they're afraid of what they'd have to give up. In my mind, giving up the violence, depression, suicide, heartache and pain that have become so familiar would be worth anything Jesus has to offer. It's time to lay down our some of our rights and our right to be right for the sake of the little ones.
Romans 12:2 "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."