By Pastor Paula Lawhead
A few years ago, I wrote down all the questions I got from campers at the end of our Bible study time each day. These questions ranged from, “Who created God?” (good question) to, “Does God EVER help with homework!?” (also a good question). I loved hearing these types of God questions and discussing them with the campers.
One question that stuck out to me was, “Why does God love us?” I thought this was a profound question. The camper went on to say, “I mean, I know that God DOES love us, but why?” I wanted to sing, “For the Bible tells me so!” The Spirit was helping me out, though, and wisely kept me from answering. I could tell this camper was asking a very serious question that deserved more than a snarky little answer. Instead I turned it back to the assembled 4th – 6th graders. “What do you all think?” I asked, “Why does God love us?”
“Because he’s nice,” said one. “Because he wants to,” said another. “Because God’s a good parent.” (Woah.) “Because we need it.” (Yeah.)
At this point, the student asking the question said, “I feel like I need it. I’m not very good.” (Oh my heart!)The student who talked about God as a good parent answered, “God is like the dad who never gives up on you. No matter what. He loves you because you’re in His heart.”
I share this memory for a few reasons. First, because my soapbox is to tell anyone who will listen that our 8-, 9-, and 10-year-olds get it. They have profound questions, and even more, they have profound answers. They are often better at sharing the good news with one another than I am. I learn this over and over each summer, and my faith continues to be formed, even as we work in forming the faith of these young children of God.
Second, I share this because as I plan for this summer’s Bible study, I have been thinking a lot about the theme verse: “Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another,” -1 John 4:11.
We are focusing on what it means to be gathered into God’s family and called to join God in
transforming the world around us through the ways we show love to one another.
Like a “Chain Reaction,” we first must be grounded in hearing and knowing that God loves us fully and unconditionally. We hear from Scripture how God has been generous, compassionate, and forgiving; we are included in God’s family and ministry; and God forgives us daily. As this truth of God’s love takes hold in us, we cannot help but to also be generous, forgiving, and compassionate to those we meet each day. As God’s Spirit works through us, we can see that love spread to all who need it.
I pray that you might begin thinking of the young people around you who need to hear about God’s love for them and experience a week of community building with other young people as they grow in their faith. We are focusing on this chain reaction of God’s love coming to us and then going on to others through us.
What a gift to be part of God’s work transforming us into who we are meant to be.