Years ago I heard someone talk about the vacation bible school program she was working on. She was going to play the role of Gideon. I wondered to myself in this day and age whether or not the story of Gideon was really what kids needed to learn.
Thinking about it there was a lot in the story of Gideon who defeated an enormous army with only three hundred men. I know as I taught the Old Testament the story of Gideon really spoke to my students. In a concrete way they saw that all things were possible with God. They understood the importance of turning to God and relying on Him. It was also a story that stuck in their minds. All of them seemed to remember Gideon on their final exam.
The question came to me what would I emphasize if I was drawing up a vacation bible school for adults. In a world that seems full of sin should it emphasize the consequences of that sin? Would I talk about how God withdrew His protection from His people when they worshipped other gods? Would I talk about the conquest of Israel by Assyria and Judah by Babylon? It is scary looking at the world today and knowing the stories of the Old Testament.
I doubt if that would work or that God would want us to do that. Fear tactics don’t usually work with adults. God doesn’t really want us to fear Him in that way either.
What then should be the message we want to give the world? What do we want to talk about?
Our message should simply be about the love God has for each and every person. A love so deep that we can’t imagine it. A love that is intense and personal. We are not faces in a crowd to God but people He knows and loves intimately. He knows everything about us, every hair, every cavity, and every cell in our bodies. He knows everything bad that we’ve ever done and He loves us anyway.
We don’t have to earn His love. In fact it is impossible. His love is a gift given to us out of love. We don’t have to become perfect. All He asks is that we accept His love and mercy, that we open ourselves to His love and allow His love to change our lives for the better. He just wants us to respond to His love to the best of our ability.
His love is so amazing! Have you really thought about what Jesus did? He left Heaven to come here to this planet two thousand years ago. He didn’t come now when we have air conditioning, indoor plumbing, running hot and cold water. He didn’t come at a time of modern transportation, of power tools, wall to wall carpet or modern hospitals.
He left Heaven to be born in a smelly stable which was most likely built into a cave or hillside. He came at a time when you had to use the outhouse. You had to carry water. When it was hot there wasn’t even an electric fan. All of His carpentry work was done by the force of His human muscles. His feet were His means of transportation.
Would we have given up Heaven for that? Would we have waited for a more modern era if we were willing to come at all?
I doubt if I would have given up Heaven for a luxury mansion and car, not for a billion dollars. But He gave up Heaven to live in poverty. If we were to see what Nazareth was like then it would probably remind us of a Third World country. Nazareth in the First Century was much more like Haiti than America.
He came to pay the price for our sins. He came to die for us. He didn’t pick Modern America where He could have been executed painlessly by lethal injection. He didn’t even pick Eighteenth Century France when He could have been swiftly guillotined. No He came when Palestine was ruled by Romans who had invented the most painful form of execution ever. But being crucified wasn’t enough. He endured the Scourging and Crowning with Thorns, all for love of each and every one of us. All, because He wanted us in heaven with Him.
That wasn’t all. He couldn’t wait for you to get to heaven. He wanted to be with you now. So He created the Eucharist as a way to be with us. He waits for us to come to Him. He waits 24/7 for us to be with Him so that He may bless us. Think about it Almighty God, all the power of the Universe, the same Jesus who was crucified waits for you in the Tabernacle.
God, Almighty wants a relationship with you. He wants to pour His love on you.
Words are totally inadequate to describe the love Jesus has for each individual. If I wrote for one thousand years I could do no better than hint at the depth of His love. The only way we can communicate about God’s love is by praying to the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and the eyes of those we talk to.
This is the message we have for the World. God is love. He loves you. He wants you to come to Him. He wants to bless you. Don’t worry about teaching people about all the sin in the world. If we simply lead people to Jesus, He will do the rest.
Lord, give me the wisdom and courage I need to talk to people about Your awesome love. Give me opportunities and the words to witness to Your love. Help me to lead people to You.