Loving Jesus Above All Else
BY LAURA JACKSON
If someone asked your child what their parents love most, what would your child say? Maybe they cannot articulate it yet, but where would they see you finding your joy? Where do your children see their mom and dad turning when trials enter the home? Or what about their teachers and those they look up to at church? How do they see Jesus’ love in leaders’ actions or reactions to the things that happen in the classroom and hallways?
In Dane Ortlund’s book Gentle and Lowly, he shares a sermon in which Jonathan Edwards addressed the children of his congregation. Edwards’ main point was, “Children ought to love the Lord Jesus Christ above all things in the world” (95). He also told the kids, “There is no love so great and so wonderful as that which is in the heart of Christ” (100). If we and the children in our care grasp this truth, consider the impact it would have.
Christ demonstrated His great love for sinners by rescuing and delivering us through His death on the cross. It is important to note that it is not difficult for children to realize early on that they sin. One way we can show them Jesus’ love is to remind them, as CityAlight’s song says, “We can always run to Jesus—Jesus strong and kind.” Our failures and our needs do not make us undesirable to Him. Our sin is not something we should cover up and hide from Him—in fact, we cannot. Because He took the punishment for our sins on Himself, our sin should cause us not to hide in shame but come to Him for forgiveness.
In this crucified Savior, children can know the true Friend of Sinners. When friends forsake us or we feel alone, Christ is a never-failing Friend. When we feel like our life is a mess, Jesus will deal with us gently. When we fail Him, Jesus continues interceding. His mercy and grace are bigger than all our sin. And this should give us great joy.
In this crucified Savior, children can know the true Friend of Sinners.
These truths need to be kept before us continually. As sinful humans, we struggle with heart idols and misplaced identities. In Melissa Kruger’s book Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know, after listing various occupations, dreams, and possible outcomes for a child’s future, the book closes with “Whatever you do, wherever you start, I pray you love Jesus with all of your heart.” Hearing this message and seeing it lived out will help children understand the hope they can have in knowing Christ’s love for them. Because they are loved with a love that is boundless and unwavering, they can rest in His sufficiency. They will be tempted to believe that they need something in addition to Jesus, but there is no award, accomplishment, or applause that will add any value. We will spend our entire lives being reminded that He is enough.
To love Jesus above all else, we must know Him. We must experience His love. We must know what He says about Himself and not what we think or assume to be true. As humans, we can easily imagine things to be true because of the sinfulness around us. We are tempted to expect harshness or rejection from Jesus because these are often the reactions we experience from others. However, the more we learn of His perfect love, we see that He welcomes us with openness and compassion. There is no reason to hold back in coming to Him.
As we pray for those who are training children and for the children within our congregation, we can pray from scripture, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
There will never come a time when we stop learning or seeing His love in action. Think through the implications that this realization brings and the transformation it produces. Our prayer should be that children comprehend it as we discuss what it means for our daily lives. We must show them what it means to love Jesus above all else.
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