The Bible teaches us that "God is love" (1 John 4:8, New International Version), and this is a lesson that we should start teaching our children when they are young. They need to learn love of God and love of others. Starting an open, honest conversation with them in Sunday School, on a level that they can understand, provides a foundation that they will take into adulthood.
The Love Chapter
Often 1 Corinthians 13 is referred to as "the love chapter." It teaches what love is (for example, "love is patient, love is kind") and what it is not (for example, "love is not proud, love is not rude"). Read the text to the children, then explain that in the original Biblical languages, there were several words that have been translated into English as "love," but the original words referred to different types of love. In this chapter, the Greek word "agape" was originally used, referring to the unconditional love that God has for each of us. Explain also that in the King James Version of the Bible, the word "charity" was originally used in place of love. Read the chapter again, replacing "love" with "charity" (for example, "charity is patient, charity is kind"). Ask the children what charity means to them, and how charity can mean love. Have them give examples of how they can show charity at home or at school.
Love Your Neighbor
One of the most famous lessons that Jesus taught us is about loving our neighbors. Use the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) to illustrate the point. Have the kids sit in a circle and go around the room, with each child mentioning someone they love. Let them know that there is no right or wrong answer. Then read the story. Explain how Jesus told us that tale to show that we should love everyone, not just those people who are good to us. Read the story again, allowing some of the children to act out the parts. Repeat several times if necessary, so that all children who want to act can have the chance. Sit back in the circle and ask the children about ways that we can show love to people who don't necessarily love them in return. Suggest that, during the week, they make an effort to love other people the way that Jesus asks us to.
A perfect opportunity to teach about love is Valentine's Day. When it's approaching, teach the children that the holiday is based on a real man from the early days of the Church. There are conflicting reports on who Valentine was; most historians think that he was a Roman priest who was martyred around the year 270. Read John 14:15, "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (New International Version). Discuss what Jesus commands of us, which is to love God and each other. Then make Valentine's Day cards for Jesus. Give the children suggestions of Bible verses that they can put on the cards, and give them glitter, sequins, feathers, string and other things that they might use to decorate the cards.
Paula Brown has been a writer for over 23 years. She is the author of the Dream Wanderers series, and has co-authored the Inside Scoop Series on Walt Disney World. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in theater from New England College in Henniker, NH.