As I sit here with my cup of coffee this morning thinking about the massacre in San Bernardino yesterday, the title seems most apt. For some unfathomable, as-of-now unknown reason, two people thought that brutally killing a number of others was an answer to something. 99.99% of us cannot even begin to wrap our minds around what that answer might be, and it does no good to ask “why?” We live in a broken world which continues to crumble. If we ever needed peace and innocence, the time is now! And so, on to the article which has percolated in my head the past 3 weeks.
OK, OK. I admit it. I am in love with the “wild” Japanese snow monkeys – especially the babies when they are in full fur and are running around like fluffy furbies. A photographer named Kiyo has captured hours of these creatures in all annual seasons and stages of life from tiny babyhood to the elderly. The monkeys in Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park are used to tourists getting right up in their faces with cameras, and yet they are not tame. They run, play, love, raise babies, and doze in hot springs while remaining wary of their human visitors. Most of the mothers are incredibly tender with their tiny offspring, becoming disciplinarians when necessary to teach them monkey politics. They rarely smack their kids – although an occasional bite happens. They also use very stern facial expressions to let a baby know when he/she has overstepped boundaries. Babies throw tantrums during the weaning process, and Mom just sits waiting for it to end, while training them to find their own food. The adults are small – not even 2 feet tall, and the babies are small enough to fit into even my cupped hands – and I have little hands! The year-old youngsters are about the size of a fuzzy loaf of bread with legs. They learn to hang on for dear life to Mama’s fur while she bounds through deep snow. I am especially drawn to their tiny faces which show a huge variety of little emotions.
Now of course, the epitome of innocence is found in people babies! Few can resist the little facial expressions, arm and leg motions, and little noises coming from such tiny living packages. They are quite simply, innocence personified! We do everything we can to protect these precious little ones. We make sure they are clean, warm and fed, and have a safe place to sleep. Now, sometimes Baby does not seem to appreciate all that, and moms and dads can attest to the decibels of noise which can come from these little lungs making sleep impossible.
Our protection of their innocence continues for a number of years into toddlerhood and elementary school. Where lines begin to blur may be when they enter middle, junior, and high school. Hormones begin to blossom, and while we do not want them to experience adult issues prematurely, the value of their innocence may begin to erode. Too often, we cave into what our society blasts at us with daily regularity: “we have to face the inevitability of the hook-up culture beginning at younger and younger ages.”
Our society seems to be under the impression that God is not able to comprehend the depth of physical and emotional passion and that innocence has a shelf-life. The Bible is just an interesting book written centuries ago and its admonitions to us about male and female relationships are outmoded and useless. Kids will do what they are going to do. Without realizing it, we’re unplugging innocence as futile and worthless. In moral issues, to use terms of an adult such as innocence and purity – and heaven forbid – virginity – becomes a laughing matter. Society fails to see that inexperience is not automatic lack of knowledge and understanding!
Inexperience is not automatic naivety!
So, when is it time to pull the plug on innocence? Is it when a child becomes 10? 12? 16? Certainly by 21? Society decries exploitation and trafficking, particularly of children and young folks, and winks at sexual activity between folks of the same ages during school events. How can we continue to live with double-mindedness? When will we say, “Enough!” When will we realize that only God can fix our messed up lives? When will we understand that . . .
God has already pulled the plug on innocence!
God is absolutely crazy about babies! He sent His son, Jesus – Emmanuel – “God with us” – in the little body of a sweet baby boy. While we do not know many details about His growing up years, we do know that He is exactly like His Holy Father. Hebrews 1:3 tells us Jesus is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.” Other Bible verses tell us that God is holy. Webster’s definitions say of “holy:” “unimpaired innocence and virtue; pure in heart; acceptable to God.” Adam and Eve fixed it so that no human could have that acceptable relationship with God on their own. But even that spiritual death sentence brought the blessing of Jesus into the world to make it possible for people to know God.
God pulled the plug on innocence when Jesus screamed from the cross: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34)
God plugged innocence back in with Jesus’ resurrection from death and His gift to us of forever pure, holy, and, yes, innocent life with Him. Spend time this season pondering innocence and its rightful place in our lives.
Blessed time of remembering Jesus’ birth!
I’d love to know what you think about this. I don’t know yet what the next post will cover, but it may be some sort of sequel.