Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world
This is one of the first songs I learnt as a child. I have recordings my parents made of my brother and sister and I singing it, my squeaky little voice chiming in with “Jesuh luvvah little pouldren”. How could Jesus not love little pouldren? They’re so cute and delightful and innocent.
I’ve been pondering this song again in recent days. Last week nine such children (in this case brown, not black, red, yellow or white) – aged between 7 and 9 – were gunned down by a U.S. helicopter while collecting firewood in the mountains of Afghanistan. A tenth boy escaped, severely injured, and deeply traumatised by watching his brothers and friends shot to pieces.
Yet did this make the news? Not in Australia. Was there outrage? Not in the NATO or ISAF countries. A shrug, an apology, mutterings about “collateral damage” at best.
Imagine for a moment this had happened in Australia. Nine children gunned down while collecting firewood. The response would be incendiary. Jesus might love the little children, but we appear not to – not if they’re Afghan, anyway.
What does “Jesus love the little children” mean when our “friends” and “allies” are gunning them down?
I assume by “Jesus loves the little children” most Christians mean “Jesus wants all the little children to accept him into their heart so they can go to heaven when they die” rather than “Jesus wants the little children to have long happy productive peaceful lives where they aren’t killed by helicopter gunships.” I assume we mean something like, “I hope Jesus makes everything ok” rather than, “As the hands and feet of Jesus in the world I need to demonstrate love to the children of Afghanistan.”
But maybe you and I are the hands and feet of Jesus. That’s certainly what Paul was thinking when talked about the church as the Body of Christ. Could it be that “Jesus loves the little children” might mean you and I need to put ourselves in the way of these little children being harmed? Could it be that it means you and I need to demand our government stop with the bullets and the bombs so that Afghan children can live without the fear of Hellfire missiles landing on their homes, or white men with guns bursting into their houses in the middle of the night?
I suspect “Jesus loves the little children” means that Afghan children are no less precious than your children and my children. But how will they know if we don’t show them?
For more info on the ways the NATO and ISAF forces continue to tolerate Afghan “collateral damage,” see this meticulously researched article by Afghans for Peace.