A Few Thoughts from John Faison Executive Director CIR
As a Christian I am always challenging myself to look at Scripture to interpret and understand my reality. Over the past 15 years, I have come to realize that my understanding of God's heart for the immigrant was woefully inadequate. Recently our family dealt with a new situation, the miscarriage of our fourth child. Again, I was in new territory, and was driven to the Scriptures for answers. I was startled to see a verse in the Scriptures that I had never considered before. Matthew 18:10 says, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven." Suddenly I was confronted with a new concept of God's care for children. It is very important to take a look at the context and not isolate a verse. In this context verse 2 tells us that Jesus selected a little child for an object lesson, to demonstrate who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Then he goes on to demonstrate how much concern and care he has for children in verses 10-14.
Verse 10 delivers a warning about how we treat little children. "Be careful..." At first glance it seems to indicate there are angels assigned to children and who also report to God about the things that happen to the children. But, knowing the character of God we know this cannot be true: God is omniscient and doesn't need anyone to keep him up to date with what is happening to his any of his creation. The verse doesn't say that the angels go back and forth reporting from earth to heaven what happens. However, the verse does indicates that there are angels whose special assignment is children and who are on high alert to respond to God's command concerning those children. We know in Scripture that angels are God's messengers. Sometimes messengers are for protection and sometimes they are for delivering judgement. Because of Jesus' love for children, we should be very careful of how we treat little children, and because there are strong connections between the Father's care for these children and His action on their behalf.
Verses 12-14 are a continuation of Jesus' explanation of the Father's care for little children. There came my second jolt from the text. In this oft-quoted and oft-sung text, I have always heard the parable of the lost sheep applied to the backslidden or to the sinner. I was amazed to see that it was in context of God's care and concern for little children. The fulcrum of the story is found in verse 13, where Jesus says the thrill of rescuing the one is greater than the possessing of the 99. Verse 14 helps us understand that this parable applies to God's care and concern for abandoned, abused, or mistreated children. "So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish."
I think you will agree that this passage indicates that God cares for and is watching out for little children in general. But it should also make us consider how we as Christians care for and watch out for the children who are arriving at our borders every day because of persecution, abuse, and poverty.
I am passionate about helping the church see God's heart for the immigrant and receive the blessing He is trying to give through immigration.