The other night while tucking my children in for bed, I thought I would test the waters of their faith in Jesus. It started with Asher, who is 5½ years old. I asked him, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?” With his head on his pillow, he quickly and succinctly nodded, “Yes.” I then asked him, “Do you know that Dad and Mom love you?” He replied as before. Lastly, I asked, “Do you know that your family and friends love you?” He responded again with a cute little nod. With that I told him, “You are a very loved boy.” With a smile he said, “I know.” Then I kissed him, prayed with him, and said, “Good night.”
Feeling good about that exchange, I thought I would try it with Salem (3 years old). I asked him, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?” He replied, “I don’t love the Jesus!” Puzzled, I continued, “Do you know that Dad and Mom love you?”
“I love Dad and Mom, too,” he said happily.
“Do you know that your family and friends love you?”
“I love my family, too.”
With affirmation I said, “You are a very loved boy.”
But, I just couldn’t let his first response go that easily, so I asked again, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?”
Emphatically, he responded, “I don’t like the kids of the Jesus!”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“They yelled at me tonight.”
“I’m sorry that happened. You are still a very loved boy.” With that I prayed with him, kissed him, and tucked him in with a “Good night.”
Autumn informed me later that some of the boys in our Community Class that night had spoke to him a little brusquely, which had upset him. To Salem, love is only realized when it is reciprocated. With his family and friends, love comes full circle back to him. With a few boys in the Community Classes, his friendly advances came back negatively. To the best of my reasoning, he called these boys “the kids of the Jesus,” because we were in the same room on the VLC campus that we have Children’s Church in. It is a place where Salem hears about Jesus regularly.
The difference between Asher and Salem is that Asher has begun to develop a sophistication that allows him to see love in an abstract way, not entirely dependent upon response. Not so with Salem, love is as love does. Even though as adults we develop an abstract sophistication toward love, I don’t think we ever totally abandon the need for full circle love.
This event spoke to me that as people “of the Jesus,” we need to love as we would like to be loved, or better yet, as Jesus loves (especially when we are in the place “of the Jesus”). It also reminded me that our worship to God is best expressed in loving him back, which is most easily recognized by loving others well.
I know I’m preaching to the choir. Thanks for listening.
Grace and Peace,