My third graders and this Jesus lesson
For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust like.
It was one of the worst years to teach third grade. Fellow teachers everywhere knew of this particular class, and word in the school was these little cherubs were one rough bunch. I knew I was in for something when I met the parents during our autumn open house. That was the loudest room of parents I’d ever heard, even after I had started with opening remarks about the school year in front of us.
To be honest, they were a challenging group. They were also an honest group, and I still smile at their directness, particularly when they squarely owned up to doing something they should not have done.
This is our thinking when things go wrong in the classroom or elsewhere: it’s most often the guy’s fault; not our own. They’re bad. We’re good. They should get what’s coming to them.
We should be as honest as my wonderfully loud third graders who arrived at this truth: we are not that good. Oh yes, following Christ puts us on a specific path, but no one gets the Pure Angel card. We’ve all missed minutes at recess for something we’ve either done, or allowed to happen.
Not so good things fall on all of us because we are not always cherubs. (Have I mentioned lately how rowdy those third graders were?) We’re lucky to get sunlight at all. God doesn’t distinguish the good and the not so good among us because He can’t. We’re both.
Think about the metaphors Jesus uses here, sunlight and rain. Intrinsically we think the sun is good and the rain is bad, but that’s not always true. Too much sun and we burn. Too much rain and we drown. Yes, we can scorch or stay soggy too long—and THAT’S no fun—but, like my twenty-five kiddos, we are in this together. We are this weird, shifting mix of being good and not-so good. Let’s be honest and realize God is teaching us that He alone is good (or pure goodness), and we are…well, we are a lot like those parents during the open house. We talk a lot, especially when it comes to wanting our injustices corrected.
This is our lesson, class. When we recognize the rain in ourselves, we can make it brighter not only for ourselves, but for others. When we own up to how sinful we can be, we can all walk more closely to God. How? We recognize how human we are and how in love we are with our God who loves us, rain or shine.
ayer: God, I’m a bad apple sometimes. You take all of me, even my bad spots, and I love You for it. Help me see that You take all of humanity’s bad spots and love us always. Amen.