I'm in the middle of Reading Week. Yep, Gordon-Conwell is so hardcore because they know we don't have enough time to catch up on reading, so they give us two no-class weeks a semester. Cool.
I've been sleeping, studying, semi-getting-my-face-slapped-by-a-Hebrew-test, and writing all week. All I really wanted to do was take a breather and read some mindless pieces on sports, culture, and other nonsense. Then, I come across this little story about a writer's experience teaching children (bear with me, it's long-ish):
A real-life thing: A couple of years, one of the classes I was teaching included a special-education student I’m going to call A.J. Now, A.J. was a real sweetheart. And I liked him very much. He had all the traits that teachers hope for their students to have: a hard worker, respectful, courteous, so on. But he was a meek kid and had not yet grown into his face and wore glasses and had braces, and so it was almost impossible for him to avoid occasional ridicule from some of the more popular kids.One Friday, our school had Go Texan Day, which is during the rodeo season and when kids are allowed to dress up in their best Western gear. A.J., that glorious little man, came to school just completely done up. He had on his best jeans, his best button-up shirt, his best cowboy hat, his best boots, and the most amazing thing: spurs for his boots. SPURS, bro. Nobody ever wore them and he had them and they made the most beautiful sound. They sounded like happiness. They sounded like acceptance. They sounded like a day of not getting messed with. I saw him walking down the hallway to my class and he was just so pleased with himself and I couldn’t stop smiling. It was really just this incredible transformation. For the moment, he looked like a Mexican Paul Newman, in that he was just the coolest person on earth. And so he walked up and I shook his hand and told him he looked amazing and he smiled and even his braces looked perfect and he went to sit down.Two or so minutes later, after I’d welcomed the rest of the kids into class at the door, I walked in. And I saw he had his head down on his desk. So I called to him, I said, “A.J., you OK? What’s up, sir?” And he said nothing’s up, that he was fine, and just stayed staring at the floor. And then I heard it.Across the room, the most popular boy in the class and a known rapscallion, J.P., was walking around and I could hear the ka-chink, ka-chink, ka-chink of the spurs. HE HAD TAKEN THE SPURS FROM A.J. AS SOON AS A.J. HAD GOTTEN TO HIS SEAT. I called to him. “J.P., are those A.J.’s spurs?” And he said, “Yes, sir. A.J. said I could wear them.” And I looked at A.J. and it was pretty clear that he said J.P. could wear them but it was also pretty clear he said so in the same way that a gazelle would agree to being eaten after it’s been pinned down and bitten in half by a lion. I immediately felt all of my insides turn to fire.I made J.P. give A.J. the spurs back. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way A.J. looked after being de-spurred. That poor kid had just wanted to fit in. He had just wanted for people to think he was cool, or, at the very least, that he wasn’t uncool. And he had that hope snatched from him real quick (though, thankfully, only temporarily).Okay, I'll say it: MEAN PEOPLE SUCK
I've been in youth ministry. Once in awhile, there's a mean moment you see (especially in junior high hallways) and your mind is thinking, "REALLY?! CAN YOU BE THAT MEAN?!"
I bring this up as I decided to read Proverbs 16 after reading that story.
"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The LORD works out everything to its proper end - even the wicked for a day of disaster. The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished." v. 3-5First reaction? *Fist pump. Yeah! All those meanies will get their dues one day by God! That's the very immature, non-caring side of me, lathered in a high case of self-righteousness.
But then, this verse came a little later:
"Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness. Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right." v. 12-13It's no coincidence that Solomon is doing bits back and forth between what God is doing and what appointed rulers are doing (well, what they're supposed to be doing, but that's another topic I don't touch). The rulers back in First Temple period (or, Solomon's Temple time) were expected by God to mirror his behavior.
You can adhere this text with Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 in regards to how we are to act under authority. For quick context, just be thankful we don't have Nero as our current head of state (refrain from political jokes). Nevertheless, God says we are to be submissive, because ultimately, ALL governmental authority will answer to Him.
That's pretty reassuring. But then, I think in the context of the Church.
We are called to be Jesus' representatives. We are sons and daughters of God, for He sees us through the lens of the Cross, made righteous through the blood of Jesus.
It's our personal responsibility to fight for those like A.J., and to correct those like J.P., but with love, grace and mercy. It's our responsibility to show those who do not believe a small taste of Jesus' kingdom, "on earth as it is in heaven."
Are we showing compassion, justice, mercy, and love to others? Are we willing to stick our neck out in truth and honesty when no one else will? We've been appointed. In a sense, we're obligated... but Jesus is worth representing, because He represented us first. He went before us all the way to the cross.