“Daddy, are they going to kill the Christians?”
My four-year-old son’s question broke the silence during our trip to school.
Earlier that morning he heard me praying for the 90 Assyrian Christians ISIS soldiers kidnapped from their homes during morning raids on their villages. He could tell I was distraught and began to ask questions.
“What happened to the Christians, daddy?”
I told him there are bad people in another part of the world who hate Christians and are trying to hurt them.
“Why do they want to hurt them?” he asked.
I explained that some people don’t like Christians because they follow Jesus. Jesus is the King of the world and people don’t like having a King ruling over them, so they sin by turning away from Jesus. Jesus tells us that if we are going to follow Him, some people won’t like us either (John 15:20).
He asked a few more questions and then we went back to our morning routine. But, during the ride to school, he broke the silence with the question that couldn’t escape his little heart,
“Daddy, are they going to kill the Christians?”
I told him they might. Many other Christians have already died because they follow Jesus. This happens all over the world to Jesus’ people.
“Daddy, what is Jesus going to do about it?”
These are the moments Christian parents know are important. When a child’s heart is stirred and their mind searches for answers. It’s also times like these that parents are pressed to find simple words to explain complex realities.
I told him that Jesus is going to save some of the people who hurt the Christians and He is going to stop some of the others.
“Why would Jesus want to save them?”
His perception caught me off guard. I knew the right answer, but I felt the same tension my son felt in his heart.
Why would God do such a thing as save ISIS soldiers?
Why would God save people that slay His bride?
Why would God redeem sinners who rape His children?
Why would God give mercy to villains when they withhold mercy from His people?
I told him it is because God is not like us. God is a God who loves His enemies and does good to all people, even evil people (Matthew 5:43-48). God doesn’t delight in evil people perishing, but loves to see them be saved (Ezekiel 18:31-32, 33:11; 1 Timothy 2:3-4). I told him that Jesus loved people in that way, including him and me. That is why Jesus died and rose—to rescue us from our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
In that moment I was sobered by my son’s child-like wonder. Trying to find clear and simple words to help his four-year-old mind process such mysterious love pressed me in a sweet and uncomfortable way.
What wonder it is to consider that Jesus left a world filled with voices crying “Holy! Holy! Holy!” to enter into our world filled with voices that cry out “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” for one reason—to glorify His name by saving sinners (Isaiah 6:4; Matthew 27:22-23; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 4:9-10).
On the cross God shows us that He is a God who loves His enemies and is willing to shed His blood for those who shed His (Romans 5:8). There He put on display His compassion for compassionless killers (Psalm 103:8). What kind of love is that? It is amazing love. Worthy of our trust. Worthy of our lives.
As my son hopped out of the car and scurried off to class, I was moved by praise and to prayer.
Praise and a Prayer
While I’m grieved that my son has to ask those kinds of questions, I praise God that He does. We live in a world of brokenness and pain, and to watch him enter in is difficult to observe. But while that is true, I am also grateful that my son has an opportunity to consider the cost of following Christ.
In God’s perfect plan, he is learning what it means to be a Christian in a sobering time in history. Christians have been laying down their lives for thousands of years, but the modern day assault by Islamic radicals feels unique—and shows no signs of slowing down.
I praise God that my son and his siblings face the call of Christ in a context that will help him to see the cost more clearly. I pray that He will see the immeasurable value of having a Savior who does not flee from us when we are in trouble or are in danger. In fact, if the incarnation teaches us anything, it teaches us that God moves toward our danger and toward our trouble.
I praise God that this is the Savior I can call my son to follow—no matter what it might cost him.
Father, we pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering around the world. Give them strength to trust you as so many of them are being asked to surrender their lives for Your Name’s sake. Give them strength to endure to the end so they might be saved.
We also pray that we would be sobered and count the cost of what it means to follow Christ. We pray that our children and our churches would learn from our persecuted brothers and sisters who are teaching us what it means to take up the cross of Jesus.
Might you give us courage and wisdom to follow their example of faith, trusting that You are the Rewarder of those who seek You (Hebrews 11:6). And Father, I ask for my son, that you might save his soul and make him a man, who like those captured Christians, the world is not worthy of (Hebrews 11:39-40). Spare us from suffering, but if not, give us grace to endure it in a way that brings you honor.
Come Lord Jesus, come.