God’s love for us is at the very root of Christianity. I’m sure you are teaching your kids to love others. Love is complicated though. It’s not just butterflies in your stomach or finding a friend who enjoys the same things you do. True agape love is loving people even when you have nothing in common with them. It’s the ability to love people even if you don’t particularly like them at the moment. It’s even what makes it possible to love our enemies.
There is a fun activity you can do with your kids to help them begin to understand love is unconditional. Gather up some paper and some pens and markers or crayons. If you want to get really creative, cut out the paper in the shape of a heart or buy those inexpensive heart-shaped blank books.
Start by reading I Corinthians or other passages about love. Share the story of the relationship between Jesus and Peter – with all of its twists and turns. Then ask your kids to name some of the people they love. Have them share some of the reasons they love those people. If they are like most of us, their list will be all of the positive characteristics of those people.
Now remind them of the story of Peter denying Jesus that you just told. Ask your children if they think Jesus still loved Peter after that incident. Ask your children to name a couple of the weaknesses or mistakes of the people they said they loved earlier. Did they stop loving those people even if they were angry or hurt by something they did? Younger children may say they did stop loving them. It’s important to stay very calm as you gently explain the real meaning of love again. You and your spouse may even want to share a time when you were upset with each other, but still loved each other.
Give your kids the craft materials. Encourage them to make cards or picture books for each of the people they love. Have them list and illustrate the many reasons they love each person on that person’s card or booklet. Make sure the finished projects are given to the people for whom they were made. It’s sure to brighten their day!