While I don’t remember his name, I do remember his colossal mistake. He was a student-teacher assigned to Mrs. Hill’s Biology II class. I was a junior just like all of the others in the class and, overall, we were fairly well-behaved. Until he took over the classroom.
For the first half of the year he sat in the back and observed, only occasionally interacting with the students. He seemed like a nice guy with a timid streak. Nice, timid guys aren’t the best when it comes to dealing with semi-sarcastic high school juniors who will do whatever it takes to impress their friends and draw attention from “tha ladies.”
As we were about to head into the second half of the year we were told that he would be taking over the class and that Mrs. Hill would be the observer. I think I could actually see horns begin to protrude from the foreheads of my more sinister classmates. The smell of sulfur was in the air. We were sharks and the student teacher carried the smell of blood. What he said only made the blood-smell stronger.
He stood before the class and the very first words out of his mouth were: “One thing you need to know about me is that I hate Helen Keller jokes and absolutely will not tolerate them.” Seriously.
I’ve read some good books about becoming a better man. In most these books men are encouraged to find trusted confidants whom we can be transparent with and be ourselves around. These books also tell men to find people who are safe and be vulnerable with them. These books do not encourage anyone to be vulnerable with a pack of wolves or juniors in high school.
Exactly what the student-teacher didn’t want to happen, happened. Immediately the jokes started flying. We were relentless. The jokes were written on the chalk-board, they were written down and left on his chair, they were spoken loudly in the hallway. It was terrible.
I didn’t partake in the joke telling, but I did laugh. Only a little. I mostly felt sorry for the guy. He learned a valuable lesson though–appealing to the good nature of certain people often leads to disappointment.
I thought about that student teacher yesterday as I passed a church building on my way home. The sign out front reads: Please Don’t Break Our Windows.
Their windows are old and I’m sure that it would be difficult to find one to match the others if one was broken. Sadly, the sign may have the opposite of the intended effect. People who would never even think about breaking a window of a church building now have it in their minds. To some the sign may as well read: Please Break Our Windows–We Won’t Be Mad.
There is a well-known pastor and author who likes to say, “Discover the champion in you.” Compare this to the truth found in Romans 7:18 and you will see that by nature no one is good and if we look inside of our natural selves we will find no good thing. We are all rebels from birth and desire to have our own way. Appealing to the goodness of human beings is like trying to teach a turtle to tap dance. We are not able to do something that we can not do. It is only through surrendering to Christ and being made new that we can intrinsically desire to do and be good.
The majority of us do not like this. Rebels don’t like to be told that they are rebels. We want to feel good about ourselves and to think of ourselves as virtuous, like Mother Teresa without the nun clothes or the taking-car- of-lepers tendencies. We may think that other people have problems, but not us.
The truth is that all of mankind has the same problem. The problem is sin.
The good news is that there is a solution to this problem and that is repentance from sin and surrendering to Jesus. Trusting in his death and resurrection removes the stain of sin and provides the ability to overcome our rebellious nature. It has nothing to do with my goodness because I did not have any. It has everything to do with the goodness of Jesus which has no limits.
In Christ, our nature doesn’t just get a tweak–it gets completely replaced. Once I was apart from God with no hope of every drawing near. Now instead of calling me a rebel He calls me His child.
Going from rebellious to righteous only happens because of God’s grace. I don’t deserve it, yet I will gladly accept it and praise Him for it the best that a former rebel can.
(Have you ever seen an appeal to man’s good nature backfire or have anything else on your mind? There is plenty of room to do it here.)