This is the clincher. This is the rule that gives meaning to the previous two (you can find them here and here). Staying in love with God infuses our refusal to do harm and our commitment to doing good with meaning. Our motivations are not our own. We are, after all, in love.
Ask your group if anyone has ever been in love. Do not laugh at them if they say yes, but explore that with some questions: Ask what it feels like to be in love during the first moments. Does your heart leap up into your throat when that person walks in? Do your hands sweat in thrilling anxiety? Is that person constantly in your thoughts? Do you spend all your time in class wishing they would look your way? Do you doodle their name and put yours next to it just to see how it looks?
In some ways this is like an altar call on the last night of church camp. Emotions are at an all-time high, we have spent a week working up to this call to obedience, and your students are sitting in the pews thinking, “I think I want this. Yeah, I’m going to go for it!” They walk up to the altar, or sit in their seats, and pour out their heart to God. Friends put their hands on your students’ backs in support. “We’re here for you man,” their presence communicates. There may be tears and laughter, and there will certainly be stories to share during the debrief.
In these moments students are experiencing the feeling of being in love with the God of the universe, and it is well that they are. And yet, you know, as all youth ministers do, staying in love after summer ends and your students go back to school is so hard. It takes a different kind of emotion and a deeper, grittier commitment. Like a wedding, the moment at the altar was real. But like a marriage, the stable, solid love that last a lifetime is worked out through a lifetime of tiny decisions.
Read or tell the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42).
Poor Martha gets a bad rap in this story. She is simply doing what needs to be done, right? Ask your students what their mom does when guests are coming over. Does she have them mow the grass? Clean their rooms? Take a shower? Martha was doing these sorts of things. Honestly, her motivations were pure. She was not doing harm; she was doing good. But it is possible to get so busy doing good things that we miss Jesus himself.
Jesus called Martha out on this. “Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her” (vs. 42).
In other words Jesus says, “Martha, I’m right here! Choose me!”
If someone is to stay married after the wedding, they must choose their spouse a hundred times a day. In the same way, if we are to stay in love with God, we must choose him over and over and over again. Be very careful of “Christian busyness.” See that you do not get so busy with good things that you miss the God who gave them to you.
Once again, we embrace every means of grace together as the way to stick close to Jesus our whole lives long.
- Tell about a “mountain-top” or altar-call experience you have had.
- What happened after that experience? When you got home, did you still feel the same? Was the way you live you day-to-day life impacted by your experience?
- What practical way will you choose to stay in love with God today?
- What means of grace will you embrace today? With what friend?