By: Fraser Houston, Summer Intern at Willowtree
Last summer, I focused on teaching my boys about God’s love for them—that it is unconditional, unending, and entirely undeserved. We came to terms with the fact that we are all sinners, and none of us deserves to be saved by God, but that he saved us anyway because he loves us.
This summer, I am teaching them what it means to show that same love to those around them. We are learning about what it cost God for us to be saved—the death of his Son, Jesus Christ. If God demonstrated his love for us by sacrificing himself (Rom. 6:8), what better way is there to show we love those around us, than by sacrificing ourselves for them? However, this is a difficult concept for any of us to understand, let alone live out.
A few days ago I asked my boys if they could think of something they owned that they thought they should be willing to sacrifice for others. Some of their suggestions were our time, or our money. But when one boy said, “Our life”, another boy immediately replied, “Are you fried?!” I was humbled by the honesty of his reaction. He saw God’s sacrifice as what it truly is – an absurd act of love. Who of us would honestly be willing to give up their life for their neighbour? And yet that was what God did for us. He chose to die for us knowing that we were all sinners.
As I spend each day with the kids at Willowtree, I am learning that they have more to teach me about the absurdity of God’s love than I could ever teach them. Our kids are reckless; they swear, and they punch, and sometimes they bite. Yet, they hold no grudges. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen two kids laughing with each other who ten minutes before were about to rip each other apart. Even more surprising to me is how quick they are to forgive their teachers. As I look back, it is the kids with whom I had the most frustrating moments, with whom I had to act the most stern, that now seem to most enjoy spending time with me. Through the kids at Willowtree, God has shown me who he came to save.
It would make the most sense for us, as it did to Abraham in Genesis 18, that God would come to save the righteous and punish the sinners. Shouldn’t God save those who deserve to be saved? That is what the Pharisees asked in Mark 2:16, but in the next verse Jesus tells them, “I came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance”. I can see God living within the children at Willowtree, despite their broken exteriors. They are broken vessels of clay, but they are being filled with God’s treasure—his love, which is already spilling out onto each other, and onto me.
Fraser is serving for a second time at Willowtree this summer. He joined as an intern again, as he really loves seeing the kids grow. Fraser is looking forward to witnessing the wonder with which the children look at God, and helping them to cultivate lasting relationships with Him.