Creating a Culture of Love
Today’s post is from my friend Friar, the discipleship pastor at Ashley Ridge Church. Friar not only leads our student and groups ministries at Ashley Ridge, he also works alongside our kid’s team to create a pathway for kids from birth through graduation to know and experience the love of God. For more on what that love looks like, check out what Friar has to share for our AR Kids blog week…
Each week when I pick Jude up from his Preschool classroom at Ashley Ridge Church, I look forward to asking him what he learned, and hearing his excitement about whatever the topic was that week. This past Sunday when I went to get him he didn’t see me right away and it gave me an opportunity to stand out of the way and observe him interacting with his friends and teachers. The class was marching/running around cleaning things up. During this cleanup time, the teacher was asking “Who loves you?”. The kids were all responding through giggles, “God loves me.”
We have had a fun time this week following up with that at home. Jude has learned through his preschool lesson over the last few weeks that God made him. As a result, he has been asking what else God has made. “God made Mama, Papa?” “God made my bowl, Papa?” To which my response was always “Yes”. Occasionally he would follow that up with the traditional four year old retort, “Why?” My answer (because it was the best I could come up with off the top of my head), “Because God loves you.” Every time we would get to this part of this continuous conversation, he would look at me and say, “I love God.” It was cute, heartwarming, and had all the makings of a facebook post, though it never quite made it there – until now.
The reality was, Jude didn’t say he loved God on his own. He wasn’t thinking deep or theological about the cross and resurrection. The truth was/is he hasn’t even comprehended a hint of what any of that means. His basis for loving God? Because God made the things that Jude loves. That’s the only reason. Not forgiveness, salvation, or atonement. None of these words even resonate with Jude’s vocabulary. God loving Jude by creating the things that make Jude happy? Now you’re speaking his language.
The fact is, that’s the language for all of us. John put it this way, we love because He first loved us. The only reason we love God is because we were “first loved” by God. As adults, we tend to find ourselves in this game of “working” for God’s love instead of enjoying the fact that it’s always there, and has always been there. That’s probably why Jesus told his disciples not to restrict the kids from coming to him, because they get it so much easier than we do.
This is why kid’s ministry is such a big deal at Ashley Ridge Church. We know that lots of roadblocks can be avoided on the path to becoming fully committed followers of Jesus if we can begin to instill these truths of God’s love at an early age. The good news is two fold: a) We are reaching lots of kids with this message already, and b) this message really starts to sink deeper if is reinforced at home.
With the partnership between church and family, we can together help to raise generation of fully committed and devoted followers of Jesus. So I encourage you to use the Parent Cues at home. Ask questions. Help reinforce at home, what your kids are learning in church. And feel free to email us for a copy of these resources if you miss a week. We’d be happy to serve alongside you in this way. We’re in this together!