Monday, December 5, 2011

All You Need is Love, Love is All You Need

Serving in Children’s Ministry is one of the greatest joys of my life. Besides my family and the Lord Jesus Christ, the kids at church bring me that same joy. They are in fact, a part of me. There are days however, when it is really hard to teach them, because let’s face it; they do not want to listen. Some day’s it seems like all I am doing is correcting and disciplining them. But the majority of time they are listening and attentive to the lessons. But there are those days.
As I was reading this morning in 1 John 4 of my One Year Bible, I came across a scripture passage. 1 John 4:20 says, “If someone says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” Good question, John. As I pondered on this verse, I thought of 1 Peter 4:8, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.” You do not know how many times I have recited this verse in my head while teaching Children’s Ministry!
But there is more to this loving your brother commandment. (And yes, it is a commandment and not a suggestion.) You see, love is something we do, in our words, in our deeds, in our lives. It is not a feeling or an emotion; it is not about having those warm fuzzy butterflies in the pit of your stomach. No, love is in our deeds.
1 Corinthians 13 is the famous scripture on Love- God’s love.  Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa writes this about 1 Corinthians 13. “This is a test. Take this passage, and whenever it says “love” insert your name instead.” So I did, Stephane suffers long, and is kind. Stephane does not envy, does not parade herself.  “Go ahead and laugh, but insert your name, and see how you do. Then insert the name of Jesus. ‘Jesus suffers long, and is kind. Jesus doesn’t envy. Jesus isn’t provoked. Jesus never fails. This is a great test to see how far I am down the road toward what the Lord would have me to be. This is describing what God wants us to be. He wants His love to be operating in our lives. Go ahead, examine yourself.” I took this a little farther and thought about someone I do not get along with. Someone who gets on my nerves and I actually try to avoid at times. Peter tells us that we are to “have fervent love for one another” and if I think about that sister, and recite 1 Corinthians 13 with my name there, then I am not walking in love towards this sister.
Peter tells us that “love covers a multitude of sin” and he is so right. You see, when we walk in love, when we become what God wants us to be, children of love, then that sister who once annoyed me, no longer annoys me. Not because she has changed, but because I have changed, God has changed my heart to love her, to suffer long, to be kind, and to not let my feelings and my pride get in the way. And what happens is I end up gaining a sister, and we begin building a relationship upon Jesus Christ together. It is the same with the kids in the children’s ministry. No matter what they do or don’t do, no matter how they behave, the love that God has instilled in me covers all those sins and all I see is a brother or a sister. Not an unruly child. When parents ask me how I do it, how do I not lose all my wits when I am teaching 20 kids, my reply has been- “love covers a multitude of sins.”
And that is what the Lord is asking us to see and accept and make a part of our daily lives. Now, when I see this sister coming, it is not an “Oh Lord, here she comes. Help me, please!” Instead, it is a hug and a sisterly kiss of love and joy at seeing her beautiful face. God loves her, and He is commanding me to love her. Does my flesh try to rise up and get “annoyed” again- sure it does, but I recite 1 Peter 4:8 and it goes away. What is left is a sister gained, and a friend in the Lord.
It’s not easy, let me tell you. In fact, the first time I ever put my name in place of the word “love” I failed miserably. Not just a little, but a lot miserably! But with the Lord’s help, and honestly, teaching Children’s Ministry- it has helped me take the commandment of our Lord Jesus Christ to love one another, and apply it to my heart and my daily life. Now, instead of silencing my phone when she calls, I actually pick up the phone and call her!
I tell my kids all the time- if you want a relationship to change, then you have to be the one willing to change first. Are you willing today, ladies, to let the Lord show you where you need to love and who you need to learn to love? Are you willing? If you are, may I encourage you to get your bible, get alone with God and take the test of 1 Corinthians 13? I promise you, your life will be transformed.
Remember- His love covered the multitude of your sins first.