Once upon a time there was a king who had a treasury filled with precious gemstones. And in order to glorify himself, the king promised his subjects that, if they worked hard enough, he might one day give them something from his vault as a reward for their obedience.
There was a man in this kingdom who desperately wanted to hold one of those gemstones in his hand and know that he had earned the king's favor. So for years, he tried his hardest to impress the king. He broke his back tilling the earth and hunting game to put delicious food on the king's table. He wore out his fingers sewing fine clothing for him. He bowed in the king's direction several times a day and sang his praises until his voice went hoarse. He fought the king's wars, expanded the king's borders, and hoisted the king's flag on mountaintops so that the other nations of the world would cower at his name. But despite all his hard work, the king never called the man into his presence and never gave him any of his treasure.
Then, one night, the man was walking home from a hard day of labor and saw a young thief sneaking out of the king's palace, his hands filled with countless rubies and diamonds and emeralds. The man approached the child to ask what he was doing.
"I'm going to give these gemstones to everyone I can find," the little thief said. "I'm going to make sure that everyone in the kingdom has a share of the royal wealth."
So the man took out his sword, cut off the thief's head, carried it into the king's chambers, and dropped it at his feet. When the king asked what this was all about, the man told the king, "this thief broke into your vault and was trying to give away for free what you've insisted we work hard to earn. But don't worry. I stopped him. The treasury is safe and your glory is preserved."
The king looked at the man, smiled, and placed an enormous gemstone in his hands. "Well done, good and faithful servant," he said. "Here's a little something for your trouble."
As incomprehensible as their actions seem, this is why ISIS is beheading Christian children in Iraq. Muslims teach that we must earn the love of Allah through our obedience and submission to him. Christians teach that Jesus has already earned the love of God and freely given us every piece of that heavenly treasure. To the radical Muslim, Christians are the little thief raiding the king's vault. And surely there can be no greater way to attain the love of the king than to offer him the heads of those who tried to give away for free the love we all must earn.
"They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me."
May God turn the hearts of all who are abusing, raping, terrorizing, and killing our brothers and sisters throughout the world. May God bring them to faith in Christ, who has put away their murderous sins and
won every gemstone of His Father's love for them. May God fill our enemies with the Holy Spirit, that they may put down their swords and share the treasure of Christ's kingdom with those whom they once sought to destroy.