For some, growing up isn't grounded in unconditional love. Instead, for so many children, they don't experience anything like unconditional love. The love that's shown to them is selfish, demanding, and violent. Days are spent avoiding a parents' wrath and nights are a fitful, anxious time rife with nightmares, both imagined and real. Sometimes, parents don't show up at all for their children. Sometimes, children go to bed hoping a parent would tuck them in.
Some children may never know love at home, but that doesn't mean love will never know them. God will not allow the love he holds for his creations to be strangled by sin, death, and Satan. Our Father works in and through his instruments of grace. It may sometimes seem like only bits and pieces of his love are reaching the littlest among us, but each bit and piece is a person who stops to sit with a child, walk with him, or pick her up to carry her until she can walk again. Each of God's instruments is given love from the Father's heart, limitless, measureless love that rips us out of ourselves so that we can live and love wholly for the other, the beloved of God.
It's easy to become self-involved, to worry only about the love we get rather than the love we give. We injure each other believing we're loving each other, especially in our excitement to form our children into perfect representations of the hopes and dreams that we ourselves were never able to realize.
That's the tragedy wrought by original sin. In the name of love, we will destroy what we love. More often than not, we love like we were loved growing up. Abused children become abusive adults. Children who are loved and feel safe at home grow up to be nurturing and kind. Or, sometimes, those who are abused grow up, pledging to never become like their abusers and those who grow up enjoying childhood don't appreciate what they've received and become entitled, self-serving adults who neglect their children. Original sin wreaks havoc on families, and there's no singular attack vector. Sin turns us into the person we never wanted to be, and likewise spurs us to the opposite extreme.
But, God's love will ultimately win out over sin and it's consequences. God's love in Christ Jesus is stronger than sin, death, and hell. This is proven by Jesus' death and resurrection. Therefore, the most loving act we can commit to for our children, and all children are to give them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Second, to love our children, and all children, for what they are in fact: creatures of God, sinners for whom Jesus died.
In Christ, we are a new creation. There's no room for child abuse or neglect in the kingdom of God. We don't have to hope for or chase love in God's kingdom. At the name of Jesus, we receive God's "yes" to our question about whether or not we're loved by him.
We don't have to chase love, because God's love has pursued and captured us and, "in this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:9-10)
We harm and injure others because we are harmed and injured by a cruel, unloving world. Sadly, this world invades our homes and it's the children who suffer the brunt of sin's malicious attacks. But, for those of us who've been converted by the love of God in Christ, we're free, as instruments of God's love, to proclaim the good news, that Jesus has overcome sin and death for us. We enjoy the privilege of being the hands and feet, and mouthpiece, for true Love.
Sin will constantly break our hearts, but God's love in Christ Jesus will give us new hearts daily, in the abundance of his forgiving grace. This is love in its purest form, and he has overcome the world. Now, we're free to love as we are loved. We are free to forgive as we are forgiven. We are instruments of God's love, sent into the world so that God can manifest his love in and through us for all people, but especially for the littlest among us, the children of God who need us to show up and love them with the kind of selfless, sacrificial love that defeated sin, death, and hell for their sake.
Only the love of God in Jesus Christ can truly set us free from the rampant destructive power of sin.