Teaching kids about Jesus presents many opportunities to remember the love that changes us.
Yesterday I was the teacher to a group of kinder through 5th graders. The kids sat at their places around the tables, red construction paper hearts and crayons in front of them and one of the older kids read aloud our Bible verse for the day.
“ Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.”James 2:8 CSB
When the child returned to his seat he found that the child next to him had scribbled black crayon all over his red paper heart. The child Bible reader, now red-faced with anger, picked up a crayon and scribbled all over the red paper heart laying in front of the child offender who had ruined his paper heart. The two boys, now red faced, eyes spilling over with tears, were ready to lay down their darkened paper hearts and take up fists with each other.
The boys were separated, the class called to attention again, and with the demonstration of messing up each others’ hearts before us, we dove into the question from our Bible reading: How in the world do you love your neighbor as yourself?
I can go to church, read my bible quietly with a cup of coffee in the morning, put my ear buds in and listen to my favorite writers spell out hope in Christ from their stories and songs, and feel like I’m doing pretty good. Then people walk in my room, pick up my one fragile heart and start scratching it black with their selfish words, or cold manner, or inconsiderate acts. And then, I don’t feel so much good.
I’ll never be able to think of being a Christian as something I’m proud of or good at as long as being a Christian means loving my heart-wrenching neighbor as I love myself.
By the end of our class yesterday all the kids came to the conclusion that we don’t love very well. Not like Jesus did. We decided we need Jesus to help us. And we need to ask for forgiveness a lot.
And this is how I know Christ has hold of me. I see how he loves. I see how he turns my heart towards others with a desire to give what I have no power in myself to give. I see the brokenness in those around me, and I feel the self-protective snatching of my heart away from potential scribblers, and I say, “Lord, it’s too much! Send them away!” And I hear Jesus say, “No. Give yourself to them.” And I watch as he takes my meager offerings of a listening ear, a choice to be quiet, or speak up, or get low or stand up and makes them enough to communicate love.
At the end of our class the older boy went to the younger boy of his own accord, looked him in the eyes and said, “I’m sorry.” The boys hugged each other and played.
Jesus can make you want to make it right with the person whose heart you marred in revenge and hug the person who turned your tidy heart into a scribbled-up mess.