I am currently knee deep in the planning of our youth ministry’s upcoming Teen Retreat where we will be taking an interactive look at Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” Have you ever noticed that Christ spent a lot of time developing world changers? Jesus knew that what the disciples were about to experience in his life, death, and resurrection would propel them to go out into the world to share Christ’s Good News with everyone. With this knowledge, he spent time teaching them and showing them how to live as Christ-followers in the world before his departure from planet Earth.
As you read Jesus’ teaching to his disciples, and then his disciples’ writings to the churches in the New Testament you see a common message – living as Christ-followers means to “Love Well.” It is the Spirit of God and our love one for another that will change the world.
In Romans, Paul was writing to believers who were a minority in the greater culture. You’ll notice he spends time encouraging them in the practical ways they should live. Romans 12:2, 9-13 says “Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind… Love others well, and don’t hide behind a mask; love authentically. Despise evil; pursue what is good as if your life depends on it. Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first. Do not slack in your faithfulness and hard work. Let your spirit be on fire, bubbling up and boiling over, as you serve the Lord. Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer. Share what you have with the saints, so they lack nothing; take every opportunity to open your life and home to others.”
For many of our children, there is an area of their lives where they might not be surrounded by a group of people who also loves Jesus. As with the Roman church, they need to be reminded of, and equipped with, practical ways they can “love well” in spite of the culture in which they find themselves.
Like Christ with his disciples and Paul with the church in Rome, part of our mission in the kingdom of God is to engage in God’s work as he calls our children to be world changers. That may take many forms, but it will always involve the mission to love well. Let us equip them to do so.
John 13:34, “…Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways.”
Take a moment and think about the ways Christ showed his love to others during his time on earth. God calls us all to love others in those same ways. What are some ways that you teach your children to love others well? How do you do so in situations in which they might feel like the only one choosing to love as Christ does?
Father God, you gave us a command to love others well – to love as you love us. Would you remind our worn out parent-hearts how much you love us? That your love for us reaches to eternity and back again? That nothing can separate us from it? And remind us how you loved well here on Earth so that we might likewise love others well. And give us the motivation, action, and words to teach our children to love well also. For it is in this that we can bring your light and love to a lost and hurting world. Thank you, Father God. You are our hope, encouragement, and strength. Amen.