As Bible class commences, I deal out the alphabet-inspired verse cards to my three energy laden, fidgeting-but-sitting-at-their-desks children. Exiting the room to retrieve the Bible, I come back only to witness my oldest daughter smack my youngest daughter in the face.
As loud wailing ensues, I contemplate whether I ought to ditch the lesson plan and begin the day enforcing full-fledged, full-body prostration for all students for the duration of the class. I feel my mouth drop to the floor. I’m totally wigged out at the new level of disrespect and injury my oldest just displayed toward her little sister. I mean, all kids fight sometimes – sometimes even hit each other – but not this.
“Mia! Why did you do that?!”
“Maylee was being ‘Little Miss Bossy Pants’ at me! She always gets what she wants! She gets the “G” card every day! I want the “G” card today! I never get it! It’s my turn!
The “G” card. Everyone’s favorite. It reads, “God is love.” God is love. God is love. God is love. How did we miss that? How did we miss that?
After some corporal punishment, Mia and I return to our quickly waning Bible memorization session.
“Mia, please tell Maylee you’re sorry.”
Rolling her eyes with the utmost insincerity she responds, “Sor-rrry.”
“Mia, look at your sister. She’s still crying. Tell her you’re sorry the right way and give her a hug.”
(Repeated eye roll and insincere apology.)
“Well. Maylee, can you forgive Mia?”
Five minutes passes as we recite our verses and then I ask, “Maylee, do you forgive Mia?”
“I want to do Bible class.”
“Maylee, do you forgive Mia?’
(Lower lip begins to quiver and protrude.)
Mia is still fuming.
“I guess it’s time for some good old fashioned intervention up in here,” I think to myself.
I direct them away from their desks. Mia doesn’t come. I wrap my arms around Maylee and Addie. I whisper to Maylee, “Mia needs love.” I whisper to Addie, “Mia needs love.” I whisper to both of them, “Let’s go love her.”
As our group hug attacks with monster-like outstretched arms and silly smiles we fail to realize the sharp pencil Mia held. Maylee gets poked. Addie gets poked. Both start crying again. Both injuries were truly accidental this time, though.
“YOU caused it! You squished me!” Mia defends herself before offering several sincere apologies.
The good news is, finally, everyone is in right relationship again. The bad news is that 20 minutes into school we haven’t even begun our first lesson yet. We start to go over our memory verse cards again and Mia adds a new one of her own. “Mia needs love” it reads.
“Well, I guess we learned something after all didn’t we? It’s a good thing, too. Mia does need love. Mommy needs love. Addie and Maylee and Daddy and Grandma all need love, too. But guess what? God is love. If we didn’t need love, we wouldn’t need God.”
It’s been said that people who are hardest to love need the most. We can’t boss them into the kingdom. We can’t discipline them there. We can’t change the subject when we’re called to forgive the unforgivable. We can’t stick with our prim and proper game plan when our students are jumping ship and drowning right before our eyes. No. There’s only one way to win disgruntled, discouraged, disheveled people into God’s kingdom: Love them.
Yeah, you’ll probably get a few prickly injuries and land on the wrong side of the blame game more than a few times when you decide on active, honest, purposeful, relentless love toward other sinners. Love them anyway. In so doing, you represent and resemble God himself. Remember, you are working for the King of Hearts. Love is bound to be the cards. Who knows – you might even reveal to both the bullies and the bossers their greatest need before you even open the text.