Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Definition of LOVE

Oh how lovely is a day when the rain just doesn't stop falling and the sounds of nature are constantly in the background. And its as if the gray skies are giving one permission to just relax the mind, stop worrying, and just be. I have to admit that too many days in a row of bright blue skies gets to me after awhile and a good long day of rain really does lift my spirits :-) I find the occasional thunder and lightning in the midst of the storm to also be comforting, as they too are sounds from nature, reassuring me that this earth is bigger than us humans and that someone up above created us all and this beautiful planet that we inhabit.

With those thoughts on my mind today, I'd like to share what I did with the girls last Sunday morning. They seemed to be having some difficulties with understanding the kind of love I was talking about and saying that we as Christians should emulate. I had been telling them (in the context of overlooking) that if God forgave us and continues to forgive us for all of the mistakes we have and will make then we should be readily willing to forgive the mistakes that others make. This just wasn't cutting it so I decided to give them a multimedia picture of this incredible love that defines our God.

First, we read Isaiah 53 which prophesies the life of Jesus, giving a perfect description of the unremarkable man who was actually God. My favorite section includes verses 2b-3

2b. He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him,
and no beauty that we should desire Him.
3. He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

How vividly does this portray a human being? This passage truly declares that He was fully human (in the midst of being fully God). God knew that if He sent His Son in majestic form as a great and powerful ruler that we would never be able to connect to Jesus on a personal level. But by sending him in the form of a babe and as a man from Nazareth, a much looked down upon village, God sent His Son as a person we can all fully relate too in a human sense. That in itself is truly amazing and what makes Christianity so distinct from other religions.

Second, I played "By His Wounds" from Glory Revealed By His Wounds - WOW Hits 2008. This is an incredible song that puts Isaiah 53 to music. Several of the girls were familiar with it and were super excited to be able to listen to it during Sunday school.

Third came the intense part. We watched 2 clips from "The Passion of the Christ" that I found available on YouTube: Jesus' beating and His crucifixion. After watching these two clips while planning my lesson I realized that they really showed the kind of love that Jesus had/has for us. Most of the girls were definitely affected by the clips as they visually saw how much their Savior cares for them.

Finally, I ended the class by playing 3 more songs:
"For God So Loved" by Jaci Velasquez God So Loved - Jaci Velasquez,
"Nothing Without You" by Bebo Norman Nothing Without You - Try,
and "Praise You in this Storm" by Casting Crowns Praise You In This Storm - WOW Hits 2008,
in that order. "For God So Loved" was actually the song that finally got the power and love of Christ through to me a.k.a. I was saved by this song and so have a special connection to it that I wanted to share with my girls. "Nothing Without You" was to have the girls realize just how much of our lives we should give to Christ...all of them!! This definitely puts a different spin on how to deal with conflicts. "Praise You in this Storm" ended the class by re-emphasizing the importance of suffering in our lives and how we can always trust Him throughout our sufferings. Not to mention, this song connects quite well with the picture of Christ's suffering that we had watched earlier. Most of the girls were very familiar with this song and I think really enjoyed the time to reflect on its meaning.

I'd like to end with something I heard on the radio a couple of days ago that sums all of this up perfectly while adding the underlying element that made this kind of love necessary. Unfortunately I can't remember the man's name, but 93.7 WDJC DJs always preface his name with "Revolutionary Pastor." This quote was in the middle of a mash up between Casting Crown's "East to West" East to West - East to West - Single and one of this man's sermons. He said,
"Nails didn't hang Him on the cross.
Our names hung Him on the cross.
Our mistakes hung Him on the cross.
LOVE hung Him on the cross."
So simple and yet so powerful - the crucifixion was all about God's immense and unending love for us sinners. No message is more reassuring than that!

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