The Senior Section

This just in from our good friend Pete Emmet: I work at a private Christian […]

Choi / 9.29.08

This just in from our good friend Pete Emmet:

I work at a private Christian high school in Boston, where being a teacher establishes you as a force of law almost automatically. It makes for an interesting struggle, being an authority figure in the students’ lives while also trying to deal with them (on a daily basis) as a proponent of Life rather than Death – to use the broadest terms, which may be a little extreme, but… not really. It’s got to be one or the other, right? For, “Our message to you is not ‘Yes’ and ‘No'” (2 Cor 1:18).

This afternoon, a colleague told me a particularly illuminating story which I thought was worth sharing. It was announced earlier this morning that a certain hallway of our school would be a space for Seniors only, a sort of Senior lounge. My colleague’s office is located on that hallway. The next period, about 20 minutes after the announcement, he tells me that he saw a Freshman student wandering the Seniors-only hallway. After 2 or 3 passes by his door, my colleague, the teacher, asked the student what he was doing. The student responded rather bizarrely, grinning and continuing to wander – seemingly without purpose – in the hallway. The teacher then asked the student if he was there to see him, or to go into the classroom next door. The student responded, “No.” So the teacher asked him if he had heard the announcement not more than half an hour ago about the hallway being a restricted space. The student continued his strange behavior, remaining in the hallway. Finally the teacher exclaimed, “Let me be more clear… Get out!” At this point the student left.

As he told me this story, it became clear that my colleague was at a loss for why the student had behaved so strangely – it seemed as if he was looking to be reprimanded. Even more strangely, the teacher commented that he could not remember seeing that particular student in that hallway at any point earlier this year. It was only this morning, after the announcement that the hallway was off limits, that he showed up.

My initial reaction was similar disbelief – why would a student behave so ridiculously? Especially with a teacher right there! But after a minute, I realized that the same reaction is hardwired into us. I have to set about 5 different alarms to get up in the morning, but the more alarms I set, the longer I seem to sleep in. I even asked my wife to start helping me wake up on time, but she stopped after her urging, however gentle, only made me yell at her, and stay in bed longer. Talk about irrational behavior!

We buck the law whenever it presents itself – remember the bubble gum in South Carolina?! Our behavior is irrational, even stupid, and it gets us into trouble. Yet somehow, I’m still amazed to run across such a clear example of “the law being added so that sin might increase” (Rom 5:20). There may have been other underlying reasons for the student’s behavior, but it certainly appears that the only reason he was in that hallway was because he had just heard that it was forbidden. The new rule served to expose his preexisting rebellion.

Who then shall save us from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!

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One response to “The Senior Section”

  1. simeon zahl says:

    This is so classic, such a good illustration. The kid had probably never thought twice about that part of the hallway before it became forbidden.”Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.”

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