For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16, NIV
This is the most memorized verse of all the Scriptures, and for good reason—it presents the Gospel in one short, but impactful sentence.
And when you look even deeper into this Scripture, every word carries impact. For example, the word for “loved” here in the original Greek is a specific kind of love—“agape” love. It is a love that is unconditional. In other words, it is not dependent upon what the one who is loved does. Despite any shortcomings or misdeeds, this love is present. It doesn’t waver. It is constant despite circumstances. It cannot be earned. It is just…there.
This is a great reminder for us as Christians. We need to always remember that God so “agapes” us that He gave His son for us. Let us never take that sacrifice for granted.
As Christian teachers, it’s important for us to remember, too, that God so “agapes” our students that He gave His son for them, too. Yes, even the student who is disruptive. Even the student who is a bully to other kids. Even the student who is violent and makes threats against you. He “agapes” them, too. He gives his unconditional love to them as well. No matter their misdeeds, He loves them. Unconditionally.
We are called to love like Jesus. We are called to love unconditionally as well. But man, it is really hard to do when our students are so difficult to love.
Today, I want to offer a suggestion to help us all in this endeavor. Take out your classroom roster, look at all of those names, and speak this truth over each of them, out loud if you can: For God so “agapes” [insert student name] that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
This may take a while, especially if you have a lot of students, but it could be the very thing that turns your love for them into an agape love, just as Jesus has called us to.
Heavenly Father, thank You SO much for loving me unconditionally. Help me not to take that for granted. Most importantly, help me to remember that You love my students unconditionally, too, and so should I. Help me to “agape” them even when it’s difficult to love them at all. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Copyright Morgan Preston.
Morgan is a former middle school language arts and social studies teacher. She is currently Christian Educators’ Marketing and Communications Coordinator and serves her middle school students and teachers through First Priority.