By Sarah Shuey
“Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so!” We have all sung this children’s song countless times I am sure and believe the message behind the song. But how do we share Jesus’ love for others when we can’t actually tell them those words? How do we share the love of Jesus with someone who doesn’t speak the same language? Or, on a more personal level, how do we share the love of Jesus to students in a public school?
As Christians, or more specifically followers of Jesus, our calling, our mission, our purpose, is to love God and to love others. Matthew 22:36-40 captures a conversation with Jesus and a religious leader:
“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.”
We, as God’s children, were created for the purpose of loving Him and worshiping Him. God created us in His image. We are His people. His children. We are to love Him. In doing so, He also tells us to love others, our neighbors. Jesus does not care who they are, where they are from, or what they look like, He tells us to love all of them. All of our neighbors. All of His people.
As a public school teacher and a follower of Jesus, I walk a very tricky line of sharing Jesus with my students and leaving God completely out of my teaching. I want my students to know and feel the love of God but cannot openly share my faith with those students. One of my favorite verses for this time in my life is John 13:34. Jesus is preparing His disciples, His followers,for their life without Him as He fulfills His purpose on earth. He tells them this: “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” The best way that I can show the love of Jesus to my students is to love them. I cannot go up to them when they are having a rough day and say, “Jesus loves you” but I can show them I care, show them compassion, provide a listening ear, and encourage them when they need it.
As the school year winds down, I have to wonder, as I do at the end of every year, do my students know that I love them? Do they know that I care a great deal about them? I know that I get bogged down in the stress and chaos that is concert season and sometimes seem distracted and frustrated due to situations beyond my control. Despite all that, do they know they are loved? I did not get in to education because I wanted to write lesson plans or to worry about fundraisers. I care about kids and want them to have someone in their corner. Am I a perfect example of God’s love? Absolutely not. Do I get frustrated? Of course. But do I try to make sure my students know they are loved? Always.
As another popular children’s song says “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world!” He loves them all and so should we. Always.