There Is No Them

Dead Poets SocietyGod has a sense of humor. He must. There is no other way I could possibly have wound up being a high school teacher at a Christian homeschool co-op. I find myself alternately asking God what in the world He is thinking and worrying that my contract will be cancelled.

Why?

Because I love the pagans and their philosophy. Also, I’m a sinner, haunted by doubt and despair. I have days when I think maybe Albert Camus was right when he said, “There is but one serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.” What if this whole faith thing is an elaborate hoax? I think a prolonged discussion over smokes and drinks is called for here… oops.

So how does someone like me teach history, literature, and theology to a bunch of impressionable Christian children? Seriously, God, I’m asking. Are You sure You want me doing this?

I think I hear Him laughing.

When I first began teaching, I’ll be honest, I was tempted to pull a Dead Poets’ Society and rip some pages out of the textbook. The snarky attitude of the Christian authors toward the great writers of the western canon was just gross. There was a distinct looking-down-our-noses at these poor deluded idiots… thank You, God, for not making us like them!

But we are. We are fundamentally like them. I tell my students over and over to look for the big questions. What did these writers care about? How did they attempt to assign meaning to life? How did they fight death? The tension of being created in God’s image yet bearing that image in a fallen vessel binds all of us together. Their questions are ours. Turn on the radio, flip open a magazine, watch TV… the same questions are still being asked.

My hope is that my students will learn to look at people in terms of their humanity. I want them to see God’s fingerprints on everyone they meet… from the pre-Socratic philosophers to the homeless people under the bridge to their own frenemies in youth group. I want this for my kids and I want this for myself.

The more God reveals the depth of my own sin to me, the richer His grace becomes. The more I find myself supported, surrounded, and made alive by His love, the more I cannot help but want to share it. Honestly, this is a new experience for me. For the first time in my life, I realize that loving people is not about me (the “saved” person) confronting them (the “unchurched”) and explaining why I have what they so clearly need. Rather, it’s me (a sinner) coming alongside a friend (also a sinner) and, with a friendly arm around the shoulder, refusing to throw stones at him because Jesus died rather than throw any at me.

At City Pres we invite people to walk with Jesus with us. All people. In the words of U2, “There is no them, there is only us.” Sinners, walking together with our Lord.

alison