In the grocery store line, on the playground, and at the car wash, my girls want to know, “Are you a Christian?”
It makes me smile. I love that their passion for Jesus has already ignited a fire and a boldness in their lives. It’s beautiful. It challenges me, it encourages me and at times it makes me really really nervous.
Can our children, and can we, become so focused on changing a person, that we miss the opportunity to just love them? God does not place people in our lives as projects, but as souls that need to know His love.
My second-grader came home after her third week at a new school and announced that her new friend and tablemate was not a Christian. She was distraught.
She explained to me that she had been talking to her friend about being a Christian and her friend didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
“But mommy what am I supposed to do?” she asked.
“Love her,” I replied.
She looked puzzled. I could tell that my tender, caring, and cautious 7-year-old was expecting me to be a little concerned.
“But mommy,” she continued, “She said she doesn’t even go to church!”
“Okay, keep loving her.” I replied again.
I’m not sure if she was expecting me to give her a Bible verse that could convince her new friend to believe, or for me to simply tell her to abandon this new friendship completely. But I could tell from the look on her face that my advice to just love her friend was not what she was expecting.
There is no denying that Christ calls us to deliver a specific message: “Repent. Believe. Be saved.” However, I reminded my daughter—and myself—that Christ Himself approached saving lives from a place of love.
For God so loved the world… (John 3:16)
Even when people didn’t believe and even when they no longer wanted to listen, He loved.
Jesus Christ walked with people. He plopped Himself smack dab in the middle of their lives, broke bread with them, served them, and ultimately loved them unto Himself. He never denied their need for salvation, but His love is the tool He used to speak. And it still is today.
We must teach our children to do the same. We must do the same.
After all, God is love. Without love, the message of salvation cannot exist.
So how do we teach our children to love their unsaved friends without making them a “project”? Here are five ways to help our children love those who are far from the Lord:
- Invite unsaved families into our lives. Have them over to our homes for dinner or for play dates.
- Encourage our children to be an example of God’s love in their actions and attitudes.
- Teach our children what it means to be a friend and the kind of person others can trust.
- Create a prayer list or jar and commit to praying together as a family for those who do not know Jesus.
- Practice selflessness. Serve others and give of yourself, even if it means giving up something that you want.
Our goal is to be ambassadors for Christ. We show love so that He can change hearts.