A few weeks ago, the children and I were sitting in a circle on the floor in our Village Sunday School class. We were talking about what Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39 about the two greatest commandments: “’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.’”
After our discussion about what it means to “Love the Lord your God,” we moved-on to the significance of “loving our neighbor.” “Who are our neighbors?” I asked. Naturally, we started out with naming our literal next-door-neighbors, our friends at school, our friends at church and other people we knew and were familiar with. Then, I asked them about people in our community who we don’t really know, or who may speak a different language, have a different faith, love in a way that may be different from some of us, or who may be bullied by other people be-cause of these perceived differences. “What about the child at your school who is bullied?” It was at that moment that Josie, a precious 6-year-old, said without skipping a beat, “We love them!” “Alright,” I said, “but what about the bullies? What does Jesus say we do about them?” Again, Josie simply said, “We love them!” I continued to list different people who fall into the category of “our neighbors.” With each person I listed- Muslims, immigrants, people with mental illness, people who have different kinds of families, homeless people- Josie continued to say, “We love them!”
I am still humbled by those profound words of a child which so clearly reflect the loving words of Jesus. As adults, I feel that so many of us have a tendency to complicate this whole “love your neighbor” thing. We make it messy. We make rules. We establish boundaries. Some-times, it takes the voice of a child to remind us what the love of Jesus looks like.
If you ever question what the love of Jesus looks like, sounds like, feels like… I suggest leaning-in a little closer to our children. They know.