Lean On Love

Core scripture: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)

Message: It all began last year.  I was reading through the surveys I give my students every first week of school when I came across a unique one.  It was a girl from one of my afternoon classes.  She had come out that summer, and she was not ashamed to admit it.  She even had written the exact day she openly declared she was gay, and she flooded the Zoom chat box with Gay Pride flags around her comments.

The girl was nervous about sharing her I Am Poem the following week.  She had completed the project, but her mom had e-mailed and told me that the girl was nervous about getting a bad grade.  She knew I was a Christian, and she was worried I would give her a bad grade because of my beliefs against the LGBTQ society.  I reassured the mom that her daughter would not be shamed because of this, and when the girl got her A on the assignment, she began to warm up to me.

There was something bold about that girl that I respected.  She didn’t back down from her opinions, and she stuck to what she thought was right.  I told her that.  I wanted her to know that I would still love and respect her the same way I treated all my students.  By the end of the school year, she was one of the most difficult ones to say goodbye to, and she never failed to let me know I was her favorite teacher. 

That one girl prepared me for what I was about to experience this year.  The floodgates had opened.  I have never seen anything before like it.  The LGBTQ community is now widely represented throughout all my classes.  All it took was a few bold kiddoes to step forward, and the rest of them followed suit.  If you haven’t seen it yet in your building, you most likely will soon.  Especially if you teach middle schoolers or high schoolers. 

This certainly brings up some questions.  How should the Christian teacher handle this?  Should I treat them any differently than I do my other students?  How should I react when someone gives them trouble?  How do I let them know that although I am not endorsing their lifestyle, I will still fight for them and love them all the same?  Before we get into any of that, let’s look at Jesus who gave us the perfect model of love.

Jesus did not play favorites.  He loved everyone the same.  He went to the cross not just for some but for all.  When He ate, He ate with everyone.  Tax collectors.  Sinners.  Outcasts.  On the cross He even asked for forgiveness on behalf of the Roman soldiers who crucified Him.  In Matthew 7:12 Jesus commands, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”  Any questions now?

The truth is that these children need love as much as any other kid.  They crave acceptance.  They want friends.  They need encouragement.  They need someone to show them the same love Christ showed us long ago.  His Holy Spirit lives inside each and every one of you, helping you through these difficult scenarios.  If you need to simplify it down to one phrase that can be your mantra, lean on love.

Last week one of those brave LGBTQ ladies poured her heart out to me in a journal entry that talked about how she was being persecuted in the hallways.  She said students were bumping into her, telling her, “Go kill yourself” before laughing and walking on.  I reached out to her immediately.  That next day we talked quietly in the hallway outside my room.  She reassured me she was not thinking about following through with those awful suggestions, but I could not overlook the pain in her eyes as they watered with tears.

That next day I took action.  Not just in her class, but in all my classes.  The message was simple.  Mental health is a serious topic that should not be taken lightly, and the phrase “go kill yourself” needed to end.  Now.  I addressed the issue with three specific students privately that the girl had given me, and just last night I received an e-mail from the girl’s mother, thanking me for protecting her daughter against bullies. 

The Lord is working all this for His good.  In the end what I want my students to see is the love of Jesus pouring through my every action.  Do I trip up at times?  Sure.  Who is perfect anyways?  Not me.  But I still press on, running my race with perseverance.  Those roadblocks do not stop me from living out my faith.  In the meantime, you all do the same. 

Lean on love.

Challenge: Do you struggle in this area like I do?  Open up conversation with Christian colleagues.  Address the questions listed above, and create questions of your own.  If you would like a book study to challenge you, read Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach.  I read it with a men’s group years ago, and it really challenged me in a positive way. 

Song application: “Revolutionary” by Josh Wilson

Maybe you’re not like me

Maybe we don’t agree

Maybe that doesn’t mean

We gotta be enemies

Maybe we just get brave

Take a big leap of faith

Call a truce so me and you

Can find a better way

Let’s take some time, open our eyes, look and listen (look and listen), yeah

And we’re gonna find we’re more alike than we are different, yeah

Why does kindness seem revolutionary?

When did we let hate get so ordinary?

Let’s turn it around, flip the script

Judge slow, love quick

God help us get revolutionary

Bible study: Read the story of Jesus encountering the woman at the well in John 4:1-26.  Journal and/or discuss the following questions:

  1. How was this woman an outcast from society?
  2. How did Jesus treat her?
  3. How did the way Jesus treating her lead the woman to share His message with others?

Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …

  • Pray for God to help the members of the LGBTQ society.
  • Praise God for the opportunity to encourage these students, showing them the love of Jesus.
  • Pray for wisdom on how to address all areas surrounding the LGBTQ society. 

Just for fun: Ever get tired of the students’ lingo that you don’t quite understand?  Want a quick fix to eliminate them from your students’ vocabulary?  All you need to do is begin using those words in your own vocabulary, immediately making the words not as cool as they thought.  Here are a few definitions to get you started:

  • Sheesh: A way of expressing awe or surprise.  You might say sheesh if a student tips their chair over.
  • Sus: Short for suspicious.  You might say, “It was rather sus when you left and went to the bathroom for 12 minutes.”
  • Lit: Very cool.  This one is an old one, but kids still use it.  One might say, “If you all turn your homework in tomorrow, that would be totally LIT!”
  • Sussy baka: Slang for a suspicious fool.  Be careful on this one.  You are calling someone a suspicious idiot!  As a matter of fact, just don’t use it at all.
  • Dab: A way to express jubilation by dipping your head and pointing your arms to one side.  A teacher might dab after telling a hilarious joke or to celebrate a correct answer. 

Prayer: Father, help us love others the way You would like us to.  May the way we treat people be a reflection of the love You showed us at the cross.  Amen.

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