The world is rated R.
Mothers walking their sons to the grocery store get shredded to bits by exploding pieces of metal that once took the form of a taxi car. Teenagers at rock concerts are shot in the back of the head before the final set. Stillborn babies are born on the rusty bottoms of refugee boats taking on water and thrown overboard. The nightmares of children involve rockets falling from the sky. We try to talk around and justify and turn off the tv, but inappropriate things happen all around us. A few weeks ago in chicago, a nine year old was lured into an alley and shot in the head and back by gang members. Everywhere you look, there’s war. Babies die. Dads die. Moms die. Life continues, but so many lives end.
The world isn’t meant for children.Women are raped. Passionate love is consummated. People stub their toes and curse. Your friend said something cruel about his sister. Someone committed suicide alone. Someone else is making out.
The Bible is full of nightmare stories.
Have you heard the one about the king slaughtered on the toilet, blood and waste smearing the floors of the palace? The writer of Psalms sent a man out alone to die in battle just so he could hide a night of frenzied adulterous sex. John the Baptist’s head was delivered to a princess on a platter. A king of Israel went mad and ate grass like a cattle, his claw-like fingernails thick with rock and dirt. The Lord sent hell and brimstone to swallow a city in fire. A woman glancing back was frozen in salt. The pharaoh fed newborns to crocodiles.
Our King of Glory was a refugee baby.
Born in blood at a place where animals sleep. Purple and wailing on a throne of dirty hay. Wrapped up and rushing away in the night, a Middle Eastern teenager fled her home country and the death that awaited her child. A mom, a dad, and a wrinkly newborn baby crossed the border into a foreign country alone. Without passports. Into a former land of slavery. Desperate for life, for hope. Seeking the safety of a child–the Savior of the World.
Children shouldn’t be allowed to look at this world. They should close their eyes, wait for the scene to pass, commit to a G-rated lifestyle. That’s the way you grew up. The way I grew up, too. Some of us have the benefit of being protected. Of allowing for a scene skip.
Others see the extended version of the story. The version where heads get cut off.
But the world is also full of fairytale stories. Of terrifying moments and beautiful ones. Happy endings and sad ones lie side by side. There is hope for laughter in a war-cursed world. There is peace for the bloodthirsty-less. It is a world of dandelions, of pansies surviving the winter, of cookies with hot melted chocolate chips.
The Son of Man came to bring peace, and not a sword.
A Middle Eastern refugee found safety for her baby boy in Egypt two thousand years ago. Safety that led to growth, that led to change, that led to hope, that led to peace, that results in love. Because of that love, our R-rated world can be good to children. It can protect them, nurture them, tickle them. Because of that love, we have reason to believe in hope for tomorrow.