Two weeks ago, I began teaching Children’s church majorly on my own. I didn’t have a lesson prepared since I had only agreed to my new role the day before. While standing there with my group (age 6 and under), I wondered, ‘What am I going to teach these children?”
Teaching for the first time and being ill-prepared for it didn’t help my nerves at all. However, I glanced down on the activity sheets I was given, and a light bulb went off. On the top of the first page was the phrase, ‘Jesus Loves Me’, and I decided to just run with that.
My first question to the children was, “Who knows that Jesus loves them?” Those who managed to pay attention for a few seconds raised their hands.
Then my next question followed, “How do you know that Jesus Loves you?” The answer I received became the focus of my lesson.
A little boy, not more than four replied, “When I do good stuff, Jesus loves me, but when I do bad stuff, Jesus doesn’t love me.”
That response coming from a four year old was so sad to hear, but what’s even more disheartening is that mature men and women feel the same way – God loves me when I am good, but God turns his back on me when I am bad.
Growing up, we are accustomed to sanctions for every behaviour. Whether in school or at home, good behaviour is rewarded with a pat on the back while bad behaviour is followed by a sure punishment or reprimand. And we come to expect the same reactions from God, rightly so!
When we do the things that please God; go out of our way to help someone in need, practice honesty and modesty and try to obey him, He does reward us with his own way of patting us on the back. But when we disobey him, as a father, he will also reprimand us, not out of anger, but with love.
Proverbs 3:12 confirms, “For the LORD disciplines those he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.”
We look at his correction however as a sign that he doesn’t accept or love us anymore, when the truth is, he approves of us, he just doesn’t approve of our wrong behaviour.
As a mother, it pains me to punish my daughter, even though she misbehaves. I gave her a new tablet a few months ago for doing excellently in school, and since she loves it so much, it has become the most reasonable punishment to take the tablet away whenever she gets out of hand.
Does this mean I don’t love her anymore, and I want her to be unhappy? No! quite the opposite, I wish I didn’t have to take away something she loves, and it is my heart’s desire that she is happy all the time.
But in order to get her attention, so she knows I don’t approve of a certain behaviour, and to prompt her to do better next time, it is a necessary evil. So it is with God. As parents, we should be better able to understand that God too is a parent and everything he does is out of love for us.
We want our children to grow into mature, well-adjusted, respectful adults with meaningful lives. Where do you think that desire for your child came from? I’ll tell you, from God’s own desire for you.
So no! God doesn’t hate you, nor does he turn his back on you because you have made a few mistakes or perhaps a lot of mistakes. Whether you are at church every time the door opens or only on Christmas and Easter Sunday, makes no difference to His love for you. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done, God loves you more than you can imagine.
Though it should be relatively easy to accept this truth, many of us find it difficult to believe. But here’s a fact to consider, What did you do to make him start loving you? The answer is nothing. Then what can you do to make him stop loving you? Again the answer is nothing. You didn’t do anything to make him start, so there’s nothing you can do to cause him to stop. He just does and it is that simple.
Romans 8:38-39 tells us, “For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I encourage you to consider the above scripture the next time you begin to think you are so bad that God cannot possibly love you; when the thoughts return, and they will, to convince you that Jesus is mad at you and He is at His wits end. The thoughts may even try to get you to put yourself in God’s place and ask, “If you were God, would you still love you?”
These thoughts are not of God, don’t play into them. Believe in His promise that nothing can take His love away from you and confidently say, “Jesus loves me no matter what!”
By the end of my lesson on Sunday, I had all the children repeating, “Jesus loves me when I am good, and Jesus still loves me when I am not so good”. I made sure to explain however that we have to always try to be good, but even when we make mistakes, we can know that our mistakes won’t change the way God loves us.
This is your message for today, We have a responsibility to obey God, there’s no two way about that. It is our duty to live a life that is pleasing to Him. However, when we fall short, as human beings sometimes do, we don’t have to feel condemned or discarded by God, we can be bold in His love for us and say, ‘Jesus loves me regardless’.
It isn’t a license to sin or live any old way, because we know that every action has its consequence. Howbeit, be sure of this one thing, the consequence of your wrong, will never be the withdrawal of God’s love for you.
Jesus doesn’t just love you sometimes, He loves you EVERY TIME!
“For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” -Hebrews 12:6
[photo credit: ubdavid.org]