For today’s “Quote from My Children,” I’m bending my meaning of “my children” a bit. I don’t have a child named Jamie, but several years ago, our church team and I taught a little boy named Jamie, along with dozens of other children who attended our “Sidewalk Sunday School” outreach. When I minister and teach, all the kids take a place in my heart as “my children.”
For most of high school, I spent my Saturday mornings on the basketball court of a rough low-income housing development, singing songs, playing games, and teaching children about Jesus and how much He loves them. It was just like children’s church on Sunday morning, except the kids weren’t all decked out and spit-shined. When they saw us arrive or heard the music start up, they would rush out of the apartments in whatever clothes they did (or did not) have on, hair all kinds of crazy, remnants of breakfast or last night’s dinner on their faces and hands, and some without shoes, so it was a good thing we’d swept up all the broken glass before the kids arrived.
They ran to us because they knew they were welcomed, cherished, and loved. They came every week, leaving Saturday morning cartoons behind, for a chance to have fun, laugh, hear about a God Who loved them, and get prizes and candy, in addition to hugs and kind words.
The “Quiet Seat” prize was always a big deal and great incentive for children to sit as still as they could, be quiet when they needed to be, and participate when the time came. Of course that prize of a giant candy bar, a small toy, bubbles, or something else exciting to a child was only for one boy and one girl who were extra special good that day. Other smaller prizes could be won by playing one of the games throughout the event.
While kids worked really hard to earn the Quiet Seat prize or win a game, they were consoled by the fact that everyone who came, sat, listened, and participated would get a small bag of candy at the end. Once the songs, games, memory verse, lesson, and prayer were done, our team would make our way through the 40 or so kids gathered to pass out candy to each one. We always reminded them that Jesus loved them.
Jamie was one of our regular attenders, a boy of about 8 or 9. He lived in the complex and came pretty much every week. We knew his siblings and his grandma. And we ALL knew Jamie.
He was a bit of a handful – obstinate, loud, fidgety, and prone to arguing with the other kids. Since we had the kids sit girls on one side with female team members and boys on the other with the men on the team, Jamie drove some of my youth group guy friends CRAZY!!!
Then one day as we were passing out candy, somehow Jamie got overlooked. I think it was an accident. 🙂
Suddenly we hear Jamie complaining, “Jesus don’t love ME ‘cause I didn’t get any caaandy!” (Really wish I could type it as it sounded – a little southern boy with LOTS of attitude…who didn’t get any caaandy.)
Of course we remedied the situation quickly and gave him his candy, but he continued to make a big deal about how he hadn’t gotten any initially because…well, that was Jamie.
His quote became a quotable to me because of the way he said it and because of what was behind what he said.
He could have easily just said, “I didn’t get any candy,” and we would have gotten him a bag. But he took what he KNEW we wanted him to know – that Jesus loves him – and made his lack of candy into a lack of love from Jesus.
Because, you know, WE didn’t let him down. Jesus did.
I honestly don’t think he thought that; I think he was just trying to be somewhat manipulative and get extra attention, bless his heart.
But there are SOOO many people who do this and believe it.
If Jesus loved them, He would make them happy.
If Jesus loved them, He would solve their problems.
If Jesus loved them, He would give them what they want.
If Jesus loved them, people wouldn’t let them down.
If Jesus loved them, their loved one would be well.
If Jesus loved them, nothing bad would ever happen to them.
I’m not sure when Jesus became equated with a genie in a bottle or Santa Claus, but that is not how it works. The Gospel isn’t that Jesus is here to jump up at your every beck and call to please you. It’s actually kind of the opposite.
He loved us before we even knew Him, died for us when we REALLY didn’t deserve it, and He offers us forgiveness and eternal life that He paid for. In return, we offer Him all of us because this is the only thing we have, and even that doesn’t match all He’s done for us. We are to live our lives to please Him, not the other way around.
Does He bless us? Yes. Do we deserve it? No. Does He want us to have an abundant life? In John 10:10, Jesus says that’s why He came, but make sure your definition matches His.
People who decide to follow Jesus so they can be “happy” end up a bit disappointed. They seem to skip over verses such as John 16:33 where Jesus promises trouble. (Thanks, Jesus.) But really, He says, “In this world you WILL have tribulation…” So, no. Not always a happy, no problems ride.
However, in that same verse, He also tells us, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.” and “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” He wants us to have peace and good cheer, but it’s not from a lack of trouble. We can have peace and joy even in the midst of trouble because we are rooted in Him.
God is so good to us. We never deserve it. He always loves us. We don’t deserve that either. He sent His Son to us to be mistreated, beaten, despised, and killed – for us. And we have the nerve to snap our fingers, and say, “Garçon.”
If we loved Jesus, we would live our lives to make Him happy and bring Him joy.
If we loved Jesus, we would walk in obedience, patience, and trust, asking for His wisdom, which would probably prevent or solve at least some of our problems.
If we loved Jesus, we would make what He wants and asks of us our top priority.
If we loved Jesus, we would forgive those who have hurt us and let us down.
If we loved Jesus, we would trust His plan and believe He is in control.
If we loved Jesus, we could face the bad, knowing that He is with us and that He works all things “for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
If we loved Jesus, we’d know that He loves us, and be content in that, even when we don’t get any candy.