Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jesus was a mean teacher

Students today are totally spoiled.

We all know it.

We see it in their behavior and read the articles about how nurturing self-esteem is so critical. And then there are the news stories of yet another teacher being forced to resign because he or she said something a student felt was hurtful.

Poor wittle student got its wittle self-esteem all hurted? Awwww. Get over it!

Many of those who have grown up in a feel-good affirming haze of “pat on the head” self-esteem are now in the workforce.

Oy vey. These “Millennials” expect six-figure salaries with their first job, a promotion to VP in six months or less, and ping-pong at work.

Actually, I don’t have an issue with ping-pong. At the greenhouse where my dad was foreman in Indiana, and where I went to work in the summers as soon as I turned 14, the guys played horseshoes. They played during their 15 minute breaks in the morning and afternoon, and at lunch. The rest of the day, they worked. Hard. So, ping-pong is cool.

The rest? Jeesh, get over yourselves.

Today’s students and Millennials wouldn’t survive one second as a disciple of Jesus. He was a really mean, tough teacher.

If you don’t believe me, just read the gospels again. Start with Mark if you’ve got a short attention span; it moves at a good clip.

Let me give you just a couple of examples.

A band of cowards

In Mark 4, Jesus the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee at night. This wasn’t your typical moonlit cruise. They reached the middle of the lake and a whopper of a storm pops up. The disciples feared for their lives as the waves began to fill the boat.

Keep in mind that the first four disciples Jesus recruited – Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, and John – were fishermen who worked on the Sea of Galilee. They were familiar with its penchant for storms and knew how to handle a boat. Yet, they, with the others, were terrified.

After waking Jesus and after Jesus commanded the storm to chill, He looked at his disciples and asked them, “Why are you so cowardly? Do you still not have faith?” Then He went back to sleep.

What? Cowardly? He called them cowards? Now, that’s not very affirming at all! A school board would toss him to the curb in a second for something like this.

We don’t use the “s” word here

But this was neither the first time Jesus has spoken harshly to his “pupils,” nor would it be the last.

In Mark 7:18, Jesus looks at his poor, confused little disciples and says, “Are you so foolish? Don’t you understand that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him?”

The original Greek meaning of the word translated here as “foolish” means “unintelligent, without understanding, stupid.”

None of the disciples ran home crying out, “Mo-ommmm! Jesus called me the ‘s’ word!!!!”

They may have cringed inside and felt their faces burn with a mix of shame and anger, but they took it like men. And they learned.

Pampering doesn’t build strong spirits

This ragtag bunch of misfits from a crazy mixed-bag of backgrounds learned, stuck it out with Jesus, grew in wisdom and stature, and went on to change the world as well as face incredible hardship and, in some instances, excruciatingly painful deaths.

Except for one. Judas didn’t like what he was hearing and thought he’d take the easy way out and bring Jesus down at the same time. Wanting his “promotion” without paying the price cost him his soul.

What about you? Is it time to get over it and get on with it?

Maybe this is why so many people eschew church. It doesn’t nurture their self-esteem. Well, unless of course you’re attending the First Church of Your Best Life Now.

Real church, real discipleship is costly. Sermons that are truly biblical will make your soul sting from time to time. Being in relationship with a ragtag bunch of other believers will be annoying from time to time. The whole thing is just so messy and hard and, well, rewarding.

We’ve all heard the truism that the best things in life are the result of honest, hard work. Nothing really good comes easy. There is no free lunch. And there’s no easy path to building a godly character.

Walking with Jesus means you’re going to get your spiritual knees and elbows skinned and, from time to time, your feelings hurt. Can you handle it?

Seems such a small cost to pay for everlasting life and fellowship with God, the Creator of all things.

Or, we could just head over to mamby-pamby land because yellow and Jesus makes us sad. Just sayin'.

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Thoughts?

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