This week I asked the boys if they wanted to be disciples of Christ? They all raised their hand. Some of them were stretching the tips of their fingers as high as they could possibly go, as if trying to touch the 9ft. ceiling. I started with these words from Jesus.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘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 hang on these two commandments.”
There’s a good chance you know the scripture. Many of the boys knew the scripture. We talked about how all the laws of the bible fall under these two commandments.
“If you’re ever stuck and wondering what G-d wants you to do, remember this scripture. Love G-d with EVERYTHING you have and love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Who loves G-d?” I asked.
Again, they all raised their hands with every ounce of enthusiasm their little bodies could hold.
“Do any of you have someone in your life who is HARD TO EVEN LIKE? Maybe they make fun of you. Maybe they even hit you at school. Do you have someone you hate?” They all slowly raised their hand. Every one of them.
And then I read 1 John 4:19-21
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
“Sooooo, if you say you love G-d, but you hate your brother or sister, what is the Word of G-d telling us we are?”
“Liars” a few boys said shyly.
“If we’re liars, but we want to be disciples, what do we do?”
BLANK STARES. Scared stares. Today, at about 2:30pm, the boys at the El Rosario Christian Academy for Boys had the fear of G-d in their eyes.
“Remember what I told you, if you’re STUCK and not sure what G-d wants you to do, GO BACK TO The Greatest Commandments. Love G-d and Love your neighbor.
“But sometimes loving your neighbor is HARD right? And Jesus even tells us to love our enemies???” I continued to challenge them.
I asked my assistant, “Adalis, do you have someone in your life who is hard to love?”
She nodded her head yes.
“I ALSO have people in my life who are hard to love.” I shared. “It’s EASY to love your friends. It’s easy to love your family. But some people are hard just to LIKE. Right? WHAT DOES GOD WANT US TO DO???”
They were silent. COMPLETELY PAYING ATTENTION. But quiet. If their silence could talk, this is what I imagine it was saying, “George, your lesson sucks. I don’t want to be a liar. I said I wanted to be a disciple!”
And then I read them John 13:34-35
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
“And there it is. To be a disciple, you must love one another. G-d gives us His perfect example of Love, in Jesus Christ. He loves us so much He sent His only son to die on a cross for OUR sins. NOTHING can separate His Love from us. To be His disciple, we must love our neighbor. We must love our friends and family. We must love our enemy.”
I think the boys were pretty beat up today. I was pretty beat up.
“As we go into prayer, I want us to remember who we’re talking to. We’re talking to the God of the universe. The God who not only created OUR planet but ALL the planets. He created billions of stars. He created billions of galaxies. And he created YOU.”
“I believe God still talks to His people. Even today. Do you believe that?”
“After our prayer I want you to keep your eyes closed and your head down. I want to give you time to hear from God. If we’re not LISTENING for God, we can’t HEAR from God. He’s waiting for you boys. He wants to talk to you. Listen.”
“Lord, we love You. Thank you for loving us. We sit here today as sinners and yet You still love us. We don’t completely understand that Lord. But thank you.
God, we each have people in our lives who are hard to love. We have people we don’t WANT to love. We need Your help. Stand with us Lord and teach us to love those people. We can’t do it without You.
We want to be Your disciples! From the tips of our toes to the tips of our fingers, we want to be your disciples!
Lord, as we pray, if You put anything on our hearts, if You put a specific person on our hearts, we will be obedient. We will listen Lord. Your word tells us that with man it is impossible but with You, ANYTHING is possible. Thank You for that. We pray for that. Amen.”
When the prayer ended, the boys sat in silence, listening for G-d.
I don’t know how long it was but it was a lot longer than I expected. Today. These boys walked away soaked in truth and in love. All praise and glory to our Father.