Last night it was my turn to lead Sunday School.
We talked about Nicodemus and how his curiosity led him to seek out Jesus and ask more questions. Jesus told him “Everyone who believes in me may have eternal life, life that lasts forever.”
This didn’t ring true for Nicodemus; surely Jesus didn’t really mean everyone. After all, some people didn’t know about God at all, others were flagrant law-breakers.
Jesus assured Nicodemus—as he does to you and me—“Everyone. God loves the world so much and wants everyone to have eternal life.”
I asked the kids, what types of people does God love?
Old people? Yes
Police? Firefighters? Yes
People who steal? Yes
Bullies? No (No? I pause, let them think)
…God loves them but he doesn’t love what they are doing. (Bingo!)
People in wheelchairs? Yes ….Jesus heals them
People who sleep on the street? No (Again, pause, time to think)
…God loves them very much but he doesn’t want them to live on the street because they might get run over! (Precisely!)
We finished with an activity to encourage and love others just as God loves us. We wrote out the words ETERNAL LIFE on colored papers and decorated them. With only 3 kids, each of us had to work hard to reach the approximately 40 total number of people in church that night.
It was time to head downstairs; the kids were clutching their orange papers and bouncing up and down. They had instructions to approach everyone, because eternal life is for all who believe in Jesus. I hadn’t clued in the pastor ahead of time, but he gladly let us jump in during the last few minutes of the service.
Those kids took their task seriously! They ran around the room several times, handing out ETERNAL LIFE to every person, including the musicians up on stage. We still had many papers, so we left the sanctuary and went to the nursery, up to the soundbooth, searched out the custodian…leaving no stone unturned.
And, there were still papers leftover. Samantha held several in her hand, alternately staring at them, and scanning the room for anyone who had been overlooked. The boys were still running around asking people if they got one…
I didn’t expect this level of commitment, and I didn’t quite know how to console them when they came back and reported that yes, everyone there had received a note, but we still had extras. (I was just going tuck the extras back into my bag, no worries)
This morning I wondered if God might not feel the same way as these kids. God loves everyone, in the whole world, and deliberately prepared a gift for us—not just for a select few, but a generous amount large enough to reach every individual.
Many people have already believed that Jesus is the Son of God, the way, the truth, the LIFE.
And yet, there are still more orange papers, unclaimed.
The Bible is full of word pictures that illustrate God’s desire:
The Lord’s eyes scan the whole world to find those whose hearts are committed to him and to strengthen them. 2 Chronicles 16:9
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” John 4:14
He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears. He will remove forever all insults and mockery against his land and people. Isaiah 25:8
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11
Like my enthusiastic kids, God is running around, intentionally pressing LIFE into the hands of those who want more. It’s yours for the taking; dare to believe.