Could God Love You Less?

Kara Powell
Now that my son is in fifth grade, I'm a volunteer in our church's Preteen Ministry.  I am loving leading a small group of fifth grade girls every Sunday morning.
We are working our way through the Old Testament and last week's topic was the Ten Commandments.  Because of our Sticky Faith research, I wanted to make sure that I framed the Ten Commandments in light of God's incredible, unending love for us.
So I asked the girls, "If we obeyed all of these all of the time, would God love us any more?"  None of the ten girls (I know, it's pretty large for a small group; we're still recruiting more leaders) thought that obedience would make God love us more.  So we talked for a minute or so about how God loves us unconditionally - no matter what.
Then I asked the inverse question, "If we disobeyed one of these commandments and murdered someone, would God love us any less?"  This time, four of the ten girls thought that murdering someone would make God love them less, even after we had just reflected on God's unconditional love.
While this is far from a scientific study, it's interesting to me that the girls in my small group thought that their positive behaviors wouldn't increase God's love for them but that their negative behaviors would decrease God's love for them.  
Dave and I are really trying to communicate to our own kids that God and we love them - no matter what.  When they score a goal, we tell them on the way home that we think it's great they tried so hard, but that even if they just ran in circles on the field and never touched the ball, neither God nor we would love them any less.
I'm always looking for ways to communicate God's unconditional love to my own kids and the teenagers/preteens in our church.  How have you tried to do that in your family or ministry?

Published Nov 07, 2011
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

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