It happens more often than you think, where core classes are staffed with rotating substitutes for weeks, months at a time, and students just give up. They don't try. The books are there, there are lessons on YouTube, entire classes on KhanAcademy, and so on. Yet instead of using these resources to learn the material, they most often see it as a free pass to goof around and do nothing, then offer up the excuse, “we didn’t have a teacher.”
There’s something I’ve wanted to talk about for some time, but haven’t been sure how to go about it.
Suppose there’s a student in class who does absolutely nothing. He sits there and sleeps, goofs around, plays on his phone, whatever. It seems no matter how many times you tell this student to do his work, he just ignores you. He’s given up.
Now instead, suppose there’s a teacher who can’t teach. Can’t seem to reach the class, and all the kids do is talk and talk and talk, and so the teacher spends most of class time sitting down browsing the Internet. The teacher has given up.
There’s a bible verse about this, but it’s easy to miss:
“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.”
So now we come to this thought experiment. Elsewhere in the Bible, belief is defined as being reflected through one’s actions; hence the expression, you can tell a tree by its fruit.
In a marriage, there are days when the husband is not reflecting a belief in anything holy, while the wife is. Likewise, there are days when the wife does not act much like a believer when the husband does. The moral of this verse, then, is that it only takes one spouse to bring things back to being good. The responsibly therefore lies with each of us to do the right thing.
How often do we find ourselves misbehaving only to offer up the excuse, “but he did this other thing,” or “but she did that first?”
1 Corinthians 7:14 teaches us that there are no excuses. It takes two to make something ugly, but only one to make it beautiful. So therefore, if your relationship is bad, it’s your responsibility to make it right.
But wait for it…
1 Corinthians 7:14 isn’t talking about marriage — not exclusively, anyway. It’s a metaphor for many, many things.
That student, the one who gave up? I could say, “it’s his grade,” and focus my energy on the ones who care about themselves. Or, I could pull that student aside and find out what’s going on, come up with a plan to get that student learning, and gain some progress. I could believe where that student does not, and thereby sanctify the ‘children’ of the student-teacher relationship, which is the learning that takes place.
Conversely, those students in a class where the teacher has given up, can still learn. It happens more often than you think, where core classes are staffed with rotating substitutes for weeks, months at a time, and students just give up. They don’t try. The books are there, there are lessons on YouTube, entire classes on KhanAcademy, and so on. Yet instead of using these resources to learn the material, they most often see it as a free pass to goof around and do nothing, then offer up the excuse, “we didn’t have a teacher.”
And they still fail the state exams.
But 1 Corinthians 7:14 doesn’t stop there, either; it’s a most extensible concept.
Police violence. Are you angry that our politicians don’t do enough about racial profiling in the police? But what are you doing about it?
Climate change. Upset about that partially decomposed Jack-o-lantern and the goons in his cabinet? But what are you doing about climate change?
Immigration. Justice reform. Municipal fines.
Beyond politics, think about work, and that elusive promotion.
In every way of life, in every situation, if you see something that isn’t right, you have the power to do something about it. And the fact alone God showed you something that isn’t right might be of significance.
The responsibility lies with each of us.