I’m a public school teacher. I spend about six hours a day, five days a week with the future of our country. I teach in a middle class suburb with about 60% white students, 35% Hispanic and about 5% a mix of everyone else. I feel like our school is reasonably diverse, but it’s not “Dangerous Minds” in my classroom either. Ultimately I love ALL of my students (seriously), they are the entire reason I became a teacher (I’ve never met someone who wanted to be a teacher because they enjoy difficult parent conferences or grading stacks and stacks of essays filled with spelling and grammatical errors) but there are some that give me more concern than others. I see all types: Sweet, sassy, rude, generous, smart, slow, “sunshiney” and deeply depressed. But perhaps what is most disheartening thing about my job is the fact that are quite a few of them that are “puffed up”, arrogant and have a real sense of entitlement to them that can be so dangerous to the development of faith. Now given, people do change a lot between middle school and their adult years, but habits and attitudes change a lot less than things like dress and personal hygiene.
Perhaps this sad, pervailing attitude was best identified by a clever student I had last year. This student came in on one of the “love yourself” days (Yes, that was they actual title and yes some of the teachers did have a laugh about it) and had a pin on that said sarcastically: “Happy Narcissists day!”. I found this to be clever 1) because it was funny and 2) because I think she had the same skeptical attitude toward it that I had.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think that “loving yourself” in a humble, realistic manner is a VERY healthy thing. We should recognize humbly our God given positive attributes, abilities, talents and gifts. But I think perhaps the best way to think of these is a that of a “gift”. We should be happy and feel blessed with our abilities, but we should not be thinking that somehow we are totally responsible ourselves for the positive attributes we posses. We must remember to recognize the source of these gifts is not something wonderful within ourselves, but rather that they are gifts from God.
Something else that bothers me is how often the word “love” is used in society. I “love” that car! I “love” that shirt! I “love” that (insert material item that God has told us not to elevate above Him). With all of this talk of “loving” the word has become diluted and the amount of affection and commitment associated with it has declined accordingly. I see this with the kids I teach all the time: “I love you so and so!” and as soon as that person leaves, they could just as easily gossip about them in next words out of their mouth. It’s so very sad. The most important character trait that Christ himself said we can posses has been minimized, downplayed, bought and sold. The divorce rate is skyrocketing even though many of these people “loved” each other and swore before God not to part until death, they have gone their separate ways. Self-righteousness saturates every aspect of society, and the original sin of pride is SO apparent and accepted that instead of being viewed as a sin, it is now a positive character trait.
Do not be fooled by this relativistic, self-centered societal view of love. It is a counterfeit, cheapened loves that looks dull, gray and hideous compared to the love of family, and even the love of family is dull, gray and hideous compared to the love of Jesus Christ.
Let us remember what TRUE love looks like. No love in the world can compare to love like this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”