Every afternoon, I have the joy and privilege of sharing life with 4 year olds through 5th graders as I seek to teach them about the reckless love of Jesus.
I never really imagined my life this way: playing with side walk chalk, helping bandage wounds, and having a bunch of little people run around me. But it’s in these moments I experience joy—extreme joy.
But anyone that has been around children long enough can also understand my frustration—that frustration that comes whenever a child won’t listen. Sometimes, when we teach the children at House of Faith a bible story—they simply look back at us with blank stares on their faces.
And if the blank stares aren’t enough, sometimes they jump up and start doing other things. They get distracted. And sometimes none of the kids are listening.
And this frustrates me because I want so badly for them to hear about the love of Jesus.
And it’s even more frustrating when they don’t want to engage in the Bible lesson, but want to engage in other things. The snack time seems more exciting to them than Jesus. Playing four square often seems engaging than talking about God. Sometimes messing around with and talking to their neighbor seems more attractive than paying attention to the Bible Story.
But the more I’ve thought about it—the more I’ve realized I’m wrong to get frustrated when the children don’t want to pay attention. Because whenever they are playing, or talking, or eating a snack—at least they are engaged.
You see, my view of church has changed. It’s not about sitting around and listening to a story. It’s about doing and playing and laughing. It’s about eating and loving and joy.
Don’t get me wrong—there is goodness that comes from sitting and listening to a story. I think that there is a lot to be learned through this method.
But in the grand scheme of things—learning doesn’t happen just by hearing that story. It happens around tables with food, conversation, and people. Learning happens in the laughing, the loving, and the playing.
I see and experience God most—not in formal lectures about the Bible, but in sharing in real life with real people.
He’s in hugs and the handholding, the emotional bonds and the love.
He’s in the tears and hurt, the joy and the laughter.
He’s in the playing and dancing, the wounds and the scars.
I think “church” works best in the sharing of life.
In the knowing of another’s heart and having them know your heart as well.
And it’s all well and good for us to go to church and hear story after story after story of God’s redemptive love. There’s power in that, don’t get me wrong.
But if our lives are all about going, hearing, and listening to that story—but we aren’t engaging in life with people, then what’s the point?
If we are so fixated on the formality that we forget to laugh and love and truly know other people, what’s the point?
I find life in the doing, in the engaging.
I find love in the conversations and the laughter.
I find joy in the carrying of burdens.
The knowing and the learning about God is important. It’s extremely important. And taking the time to stop and listen and hear God is important.
But let’s stop thinking this can only be achieved in one way.
Let’s love, pursue, and chase after the people God has lovingly placed around us in a way that embodies Christ.
I know that God is real, not by what I hear or read—but by how I experience His love through other people.
Maybe God can be experienced just as much in the playing and the doing as the listening.