I'm thrilled to be guest posting at Adela Just's blog today in response to her prompt, "What is the most important thing you want your kids to know about the love of God?”
Recently, a student told me this story:
A Sunday School teacher shows her class a picture of a squirrel and asks “What is this?” A child responds, “Well, it looks like a squirrel but I know the right answer is Jesus. The right answer is always Jesus.”
As a youth worker, I fear this story is all too true. We’ve conditioned our church kids to know the right answer is always Jesus; Even when they cannot actually see Jesus.
In the same way, when we talk of God, we’ve conditioned them to know the right answer is always love.
When I ask church kids, “What’s God like?” most will say, almost reflexively, “He’s loving.”
To some degree, this is good. I want the students with whom I work to know, without a doubt, that God is loving.
However, my fear is that because this is our conditioned response, most kids don’t really understand what this means; Most kids don’t really know how God’s love differs from the love of others. And because they don’t, I worry that our constant association of God with love has actually reduced God into something he is not: A wimp or a doormat who we can trample over.
For this reason, as a youth worker who’s not yet a parent, there are two things I most want my kids – the students with whom I have the privilege of working – to know about the love of God.