In what seems like a lifetime ago now, I used to work as an Educational Assistant in one of the toughest elementary schools in Oshawa. The principal of that school was an older man named Bill. Bill was in his final years of education and instead of riding off into the sunset in a cushy school, because after all he had earned it, he chose to work with some of the neediest students in the city.
Every morning, an hour before school started, if you were looking for Bill, you’d find him in the same place - at breakfast club. Breakfast club was a sponsored program to feed students that don’t normally get fed in the morning and Bill would often be right in his normal position, by the toaster. He loved to toast bagels for those students. It wasn’t one of his tasks as principal. It wasn’t something he did to be seen, because most never did. It was something that came out of pure love for his students.
At dismissal, Bill was always at the front of the school saying goodbye to each student. He knew each by name. He loved his students, and in a neighbourhood where trust and respect was hard to come by, they loved him back.
There is something about watching unconditional love in action. It catches people off guard. It makes them question motive. Then when it is truly captured, it causes us to move toward action. In the same manner as we will throw around the phrase “hurt people, hurt people”, the same is true that loved people, love people.
God doesn’t love us because of our accomplishments. God doesn’t love us because of our spiritual standing. It’s unconditional…there’s no fine print. We have done nothing to deserve God’s love but He loves you simply because you are one of His.
In John 15:12, it says “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” God loves you. That should propel you to reflect that love in the lives of others. Love people that deserve it, love people that don’t. As Jesus commanded, “Love each other.” Love them regardless of their skin colour, their beliefs, their sexual orientation, their social standing or anything else that makes someone different from you. It’s just that simple. Love God, love others.
Bill’s effect on the school was noticed. Students, who had a general distrust of authority, slowly began to speak to teachers and each other with softer words. Teachers and staff watched his love for students and began to change their outlook on what community looked like. It was slow, it was gradual, but culture shifted every so slightly. What would happen when we truly understood that we are so loved by our creator and transfer it to others. What if we were moved to action to change culture in our own part of the world. What would that look like in a community where an entire youth group grasped the Father’s love and reflected that love on their schools and neighbours? You are so loved. Now what are you going to do with it?