2 Corinthians 5:14 says that it is the love of Christ that compels us because Jesus died for all. In my life I come to realize more and more that it truly is the love of Christ that compels us to live our lives the way we do. It is his love that compels us to love. Even when there is no promise of love in return.
Meet Joel. He is a 4 year old at the preschool in Mata Gorda. This school year has been a test of the transforming power that God's love can have on a person's life, even a child as young as Joel. At the beginning of the school year, Joel was a bit nervous as he began his first year at the school. Even though he was one of the smallest children at the school, it soon became evident that he had learned how to stand up for himself. Instead of the sweet face that you see in the photo, Joel wore an angry, aggressive, and defensive face everyday. He was constantly fighting with the other children, getting in trouble and was just a generally unhappy, disobedient child. I soon found out that he came from a very rough, unloving, neglecting home life. I knew that more discipline would not change this child, but rather love was what he needed. I decided that everyday I would walk up to him first, before any other child, and give him a hug. This may not seem like a big deal, as most of the kids run at me in the morning for hugs, but for Joel it was something completely out of the ordinary. At first he was very uncomfortable with the whole situation, sometimes even running away from me or not even putting his arms around me. But I persisted. Every morning, he was my first hug. I would hold him tight, kiss his face and tell him that I loved him and that he was beautiful. From his reaction, I'm quite certain nobody had ever told him that before.
But you know what? It worked. This experiment in love really worked. Today Joel is a completely different child. He is the first to run at me now for a hug. Sometimes he even tells me that I'm beautiful. He now obeys his teachers, does his work, shares with others, and learns well. And it is all because he is loved.
Isn't that how God's love changes us as well? A love that compels us to live, think, and act differently. Because we know we are loved.