Last week I went to Mlang, and stayed at a school called Southern Baptist College. I helped with their SEW (Spiritual Encounter Emphasis)- which is their deliberate attempt to make sure that their students have had an opportunity to respond to the gospel message before they graduate. (Classes range from Kinder - College with close to about 1000 students in all.)
I had made a visual with a cut out heart and had a lil spill all figured out. To use up time in my first class (because I have a tendency to speed through anything that involves me up in front of people and talking) I asked the students to tell me the theme verse, which was John 15:13. A child stood up and very seriously said, "NO GREATER LOVE!"
'What else?' I asked, encouraging the student to finish the verse.
Confused. The child still replied, "No greater love...Ma'm?" A little later, after I had taught the verse in it's entirety a sweet faced little girl came up to me as said, "Ate? What does it mean, 'no greater love?"
So, that is when I threw my lesson plans out the window and started teaching directly from the verse. Pretty much we took each phrase/word and talked about what it meant. And you know what? It amazed me. (In the class we talked about how it would translate into Ilongo, but for the purpose of the blog we won't be doing that.)
|Boys in Mlang. Their smiles were sweet.|
There is no thing. That means not even a drop in the bucket. Not the smallest shred. Nothing. Nada. Do you see the void? Do you get that whatever it is there is nothing else? It is wide and it is vast because that is what nothing is...it is empty and holds nothing...
Bigger. Stronger. More. This word is comparative, so whatever you visualize first, the second image has to be...that's right bigger. Whatever it is that is greater, is unusually larger in it's size.
Now, love is a funny word. Tossed around and used. It can be defined as a profound and deep affection for another. Now visualized, what is love? If you have to draw it (no hearts allowed) how do you illustrate love? How? By nearness. If you love someone you want to be with them. You want to eat with them. You want to hold their hand. Love is in effect a sort of gravity that pulls people together.
Than This, He Who Lays His Life Down
My favorite part! Although, I had to explain to most of students that this part meant death. This is not just death though, it is the laying down of a life. It is the ultimate sacrifice. It is a gift.
For His Friends.
My rule, is that when reading the Bible, if one passage reminds me of another one, you look it up. So I did...
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has been reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Colossians 1:21-22Which prompted me to ask my students, "Are people born friends of God?" They all responded with an emphatic yes. Here is the problem. If we are born descendants of Adam and Eve, then we have inherited their sinful nature. It is that sinful nature that is what distances us from God.
So how do we become a friend of God? Well, how do you become anyone's friend request?
You acknowledge who He is. The Son of God.
And you admit who you are, a sinner.
You accept Him as your Lord and Savior.
And, surprisingly enough, you pray, and you tell Him of your decision.
Like most friendships this one is not meant to remain stagnant. The verse says, Christ's love was so deep that He died for this friendship. His death brought new life to a weary creation. His message of love, when accepted brings peace and hope. God desires a relationship. He wants to be near you. To show you His love, and see you display love for Him.
Now the real kick in the pants, at least for me was not in this verse but in the verse before. John 15:12 commands believers to love one another as Christ has loved them. For today, I will take that as the challenge it is, knowing full well that it is something I need to work on.