In the month of June, Echo will be exploring the teaching of Jesus on Love. Love is a word loaded with meaning that is sometimes used flippantly in our culture. “I love ice cream.” “I love my wife.” “I love your new computer.” Three times I have used the same word, yet you can be sure the word does not carry the same meaning. My love for my wife compels me to lay down my life for her and do all in my power to bring her joy and ascribe to her unsurpassable worth. My devotion to ice cream is slightly less intense. (I hope slightly is an understatement, but I am my father’s son in this regard.) In the teaching of Jesus, love was a central reality in the Kingdom of God. When Jesus was asked about the “greatest” commandment, his answer would not have been unfamiliar to an audience saturated with the Jewish scripture. He modifies the commandment laid out for Israel in Deuteronomy 6: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments.” Love is the language of commitment in the Kingdom of God. It establishes priorities and motivates the rhythm of life otherwise known as worship. Love is a verb – something to be lived out. It is a commitment that should have a profound effect on our behavior. Our love for God should be inextricably linked to our love of ourselves and a group of people Jesus called our “neighbor.” Jesus also challenged his followers to open the envelope of love to include their enemies. This month we want students to encounter what love is all about when it is lived out through service. When we value something, love should become more than a feeling and express itself through action.
As a resource to compliment this series, I am recommending this book to our students: http://www.youthspecialties.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=228
Get a copy for your teen.
Expect some discussion questions for you to tackle with your teenager to follow as we work through this series.
Week 1 – Love God – We will talk about how we as creatures were designed to first and foremost love and know God. Love of God should consume our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Week 2 – Love Your Neighbor – We will talk out the way that our love for God should be lived out in a selfless commitment to others – including those people that our prejudices and history categorize as undesirables.
Week 3 – Love Yourself – We will talk out what it means to have a healthy self image and to see ourselves as creatures created in the Imago Dei – the stamp of God that is on each of our hearts. If God has decided we are priceless, who are we to suggest that we are worthless? What does it mean to have good self-esteem in a world out of control and off balance?
Week 4 – Love Your Enemies – We will talk out this huge challenge that Jesus throws our way – love the people that it is easy to hate.