Several days ago I passed one of my 117 students as I drove home from school. We both pulled to a stop light—I in my Toyota, he on his bicycle—and waited our turn to cross the busy intersection. I guessed from the dashboard clock that he’d gone to tutorials or served detention or stopped over at a friend’s house before heading home. The student didn’t realize it was me, or at least pretended not to, but I couldn’t help watching him while we waited.
This particular boy is the sort of freckle-faced kid who’s pretty good in math, but more interested in being a clown in the classroom. From time to time, I grind my teeth over him, but we get on all right for despite his efforts, he’s not a very successful comedian.
Seeing him there cast him in a different light. Daylight, actually, for I teach in a windowless, basement classroom. But more than that. I’d forgotten how small he is until I saw him in contrast to the cars rushing by, buildings and trees and lampposts dwarfing him, wide blue sky curving overhead. I thought about how hard he tries to gain attention and acceptance from his peers—not unusual in middle school—and about how often I raise one eyebrow at him.
My heart was overwhelmed by compassion for this kid trying to find himself and his way in the world. I regretted the times I’ve felt frustrated by him; felt anything less than the love of Jesus for him.
I said out loud, “He deserves to be loved. Everyone deserves to be loved.”
Just then, two men with backpacks and dirty clothes crossed the street in front of us, and as clearly as if He’d spoken out loud, God reminded me, “Everyone is.”
Now I have no way of judging whether the three people in my line of vision know the love of man or God, but tears gathered in my eyes because for a split second, I felt the crushing grief of all the people in this world who feel unloved. Had it lasted longer than a heartbeat, the pain would have been unbearable. At the same time, my heart was pierced deeply by how many men, women, and children have yet to experience the overwhelming and unconditional love of their Father.
It’s our job, you know, to tell them. To show them. To live the love of God in Christ Jesus among them. To experience it fully in our own lives.
It’s our privilege, but we forget that. We forget to see people the way Jesus sees them. Forget that our loving relationship with the Creator of heaven and earth is something most people can't fathom. That it comes with a responsibility to every living person.
But I'm glad He reminded me.