One of the younger children came over to me to tell me another older child and her friend had been "mean" to her, so I went to investigate. What happened next was...well, I just sat and listened as God guided me on what to say.
I sat down and told the little girls I didn't know what had just happened, but I had a question for them. I wondered would they have just done or said whatever it was if they had been talking to Jesus instead of the other little girl. Big blue eyes stared back at me as they shook their heads "no." I said, "Well, you know that when you are mean to someone else, it's just like being mean to Jesus." There is was - today's lesson.
A little while later, as I stood to teach, I talked to the children about the things we say and do. When we are mean to the kid in school that smells bad, we're being mean to Jesus. When we talk about someone and say unkind things, it's like saying unkind things about Jesus. When we only play with our friends and won't let others in, it's like shutting out Jesus. When we are disrespectful to our parents or a teacher, it's like being disrespectful to Jesus. Even when we fight with our brother or sister, it's like fighting with Jesus! Eyes were big as each child sat soaking it in...I know they were because they were actually quiet for a change.
That's when God started speaking to my heart as well...He never just lets me share without stepping on my toes a bit in the process. When I get angry at the driver in front of me and yell, "What an idiot!", it's like calling Jesus an idiot! Whoa! Yelling at that crazy driver is like yelling at Jesus? Pretty much.... and when I get frustrated with a co-worker and come home complaining to my husband, it's like complaining about Jesus. When I judge others - it's like judging Jesus. Okay, I'm stopping now because I know you have the idea and I'm afraid I may reveal a bit too much about my character!
Then came my favorite part of any message - the part that brings hope. I asked how many had just realized they had done something that week that was unkind and now realized they had done that to Jesus. Hands went up everywhere, including mine. I told the children that no matter what we had done, God has promised to forgive us and cast our sin into the sea of forgetfulness. The analogy I used was that it was like taking a penny and tossing it over the side of a cruise ship that was in the deepest ocean. I asked if they thought they could find that penny. Of course they couldn't...and God has promised that He won't even look for it again. It is gone. One of the children asked, "But what if we do it again?" Of course the answer is, He will forgive us again and hopefully we'll learn and we'll find that we are "doing it again" less and less.
With that, we prayed and asked forgiveness, saying we were sorry for sinning against God and thanked Him for His forgiveness. It was such a simple lesson, but one that I truly believe will make a difference in their lives....I know it will make a difference in mine.
I've thought about that lesson all day because I have a feeling it's one that I will have ample opportunity to practice this week. Like the kids, I may mess up again, but I know that my Father forgives me and I can start over once again. Oh, and once again I am so thankful that God provided the "meal" when I came up empty handed.
Hope you have a blessed week...and remember - don't yell at Jesus.
The Message (MSG)
37-40"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'