But for many of us, the simple yet profound message of that song, and the truth of John 3:16and other verses we may have learned as children, become part of our “church talk,” and if we are not careful, those things take the form of Christian cliches and lose their meaning for us.
For at least one child, however, that is not the case. I have a great story to share this week, about one of our own children at Shelby Crossings. It’s one of my all-time favorite stories, I think, and it happened just this past Sunday. (I got permission to share it from his mother, by the way, but I won’t share his name so as not to single him out and embarrass him.)
You probably know that on Sundays at Shelby Crossings the children are being taught in Pathway the same Scripture and lesson that we are learning in our Sunday worship. This past week, as the kids learned about the “crazy little thing” that God loves them, they were also encouraged to be like the disciples who shared the good news with others, that Jesus loveseverybody.
For one little boy in particular, the thought that Jesus loves everyone, and that they might not already know that, brought an urgency to his afternoon that is a good lesson for us all. After lunch, he informed his mom that they simply could not go home because he needed to “go and tell people that Jesus loves them, since not everyone knows.”
So, the family went for a hike at Oak Mountain State Park, where he shared the good news that “Jesus loves you” to 13 people. If they told him they already knew, he would promptly ask them how they found out. Here was someone who might not have been able to spell “Great Commission,” but he sure took it seriously. And since Sunday afternoon, he has continued telling everyone he sees all week, including his swim instructor!
Now, I am sure many other of our children know that Jesus loves them, and they also know how important it is to share the good news, but there’s one child who couldn’t get over the simple call of spreading the love of Christ to the world. That is both exciting, and challenging, and I wonder how many of us were so caught up in God’s love after Sunday that we couldn’t help but go tell someone about it.
The truth be told, we often make evangelism and witnessing for our faith much more difficult than it really is. Sometimes, it’s just telling people that Jesus loves them, with childlike faith and wonder. In a world where we are so quick to go to social media to brag on our kids or grandkids, show pictures of our food, smack-talk about our team, or tell which political candidate we support, I wonder why it’s so hard for us to tell a lost and dying world that they are infinitely and unconditionally loved by their Creator.
I’m grateful for a wonderful children’s ministry at Shelby Crossings that teaches our kids God’s word, so that they can know the love of God, and the importance of spreading that love. And, I’m especially thankful this week for a little guy who “gets it.” My prayer is that we will all continue “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…” (Ephesians 3:18-19)
What a joy it is to be the pastor of such a great church, and I look forward to seeing each of you on Sunday.