Middle school was the best time of my life. It was so easy. I was so confident in who I was. I never had an awkward look from others. Everyone was extremely nice and got along and things were just amazing. I really wish I could go back to middle school…
Actually, in case you didn’t guess, that last paragraph was sarcasm. Middle school is actually one of the hardest times of many teenagers’ lives. You are awkward, you feel funny all the time, and people can be just plain mean. You know that middle school is hard because almost no one ever says “Wow, I really wish I could go back to middle school.” (I don’t know that I know anyone who would say this, but never say never.)
I am a youth leader and also teach Bible classes in our Lutheran Day School. A lot of my work is with middle school students, and I can tell you that our church and our school are not here because your kids will never experience people being mean or cruel to each other. In fact, I know that they will be this year. Every kid, parent and teacher in middle school will experience people being downright awful. I know this because kids are sinners. Parents are sinners and so are teachers. Every year I know that we will experience people who are rude to us. They attack us and may say things that sting deeply. Maybe you as a parent or student will be the one who speaks those words of pain this year. Maybe it will be the teacher or youth leader. We all fall short and use words that hurt.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14 NIV
If you haven’t done it, read that text above again.
This year I pray that all of us focus on these words of kindness and compassion. It is easy to cut down. It is easy to attack and strike out at people and hurt them. We have all done it and we will all do it again, but Jesus has called us to be people of kindness and forgiveness. That is what makes the Church community different from the world. We are called to forgive. We are called to look at others and forgive them because of Jesus’ incredible love for us. We are called to be kind.
I was talking with a parent once about his son who was a senior in high school. He said a girl from his middle school days was coming to his house to pick something up. The son was hiding and didn’t want to see her because she was very mean to him in middle school.
Today if you are reading this and thinking “I have been the issue”, let me remind you, Jesus’ incredible love is enough to cover over all your sin. You are forgiven. You are new today. Start over and live in that forgiveness.
Lastly, let’s follow Jesus’ lead and be kind and forgiving. For parents, for kids, for everyone – let’s forgive those things of the past. Maybe you as a parent or you as a teacher or you as a student need to forgive. Let others know us by our kindness, let them know us as people of forgiveness. Let go of the things that are in the past and start over. It is what the Church should be known for, and it is what we as God’s people are called to do. So this year be kind and forgive.
So here is the thing. I am not a perfect parent. In fact I probably do more wrong than I do right. I fail to have patience. I fail to look up from my computer screen. I fail to say the right things at the right times. I miss the mark on so many occasions. In fact today I was talking with another Dad and we both commented on how this parenting thing doesn’t have a manual to follow more of a play book. You run certain plays and sometimes it works and more than often it fails. My goal isn’t to be a perfect parent. In fact I would say may goal has nothing to do with even being a good parent.
My goal is very simple. I want my kids to know Jesus and his forgiveness. In ministry my goal isn’t perfect kids. My goal in my family is not to have perfect kids either. (Mostly this is because it isn’t possible) My goal is to show them forgiveness. To show them when they screw up like I do Grace can come. Sure we have consequences. Sure we have struggles because of sin. Grace is bigger than that. Forgiveness is bigger than that. My goal is for my kids to know forgiveness. Whether it is from me or from each other we are a family of forgiveness.
This week as we gather together as families around a dinner table I would ask you to remember these words. To remember we are to be people of forgiveness. Family time can be a challenge because we have failed each other. We have hurt each other. However we have a God who is bigger than that. He is a God of forgiveness. He forgave us, so let us also forgive one another. May you experience that peace that comes through forgiveness Jesus has won for us. May God help you forgive as you have bee forgiven this week.
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
I had a bad day. I am going to bed angry with my children for their attitudes, and their mood swings. I am angry because today one of them lied to my face and she is the young one. She is supposed to be my innocent one. She is supposed to be the one we did this parenting thing correctly. For a moment I thought I need to just pull out my Thor hammer and play whack kid. I was reminded today that I am raising sinners. I was reminded I am the chief of them.
Every parent if we are honest holds to proverb 22:6
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
We think if we just teach them correctly they will be perfect little angels. Today is another reminder that my kids aren’t perfect and that they resemble more closely this verse:
10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Acts 13:10
Here is the rub, on most days I epitomize this verse also. You see every day I know I should have more patient. I know I should have more kind words. I know I should be praying for them and with them. I should be reminding them I am not perfect (although they know it, they need to hear it as well). They need to know the only remedy is Jesus. Jesus’ forgiveness for us brings a new day. It brings healing to these broken relationships. It brings peace to situations that are in chaos.
I think often as parents we are afraid to say this. That we all have days, weeks, months even years where we are chief of sinners. We fail to point our kids to Jesus. Being a parent is hard. We are all sinners in need of Jesus.
So tonight I am on my knees in prayer. I am praying for my kids, I am praying for my wife, and I am praying for me. I am praying we would experience Christ’s forgiveness. Lets join together in prayer as we walk with Jesus.
3 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14 NIV