Thursday, January 19, 2006

Butting Desks

They couldn’t stand each other. They didn’t even have to say a word to announce the fact. We all just knew it. Matt and Byrne loathed each other. If they didn’t avoid each other on the playground, they sought each other out with “individualizing intentionality.”

On the day Katina hit I stopped in the local mega-store and found they had put the swim noodles on sale for a quarter apiece. A six-foot foam noodle meant a three-foot light saber to my way of thinking. I snatched up a bunch, and cut a few in half.

There is nothing more all-American-boy than bopping one another over the head with a "sword." These things are several inches of neon foam, so they cause no harm, but plenty of imagination and fun. The gang went for it big time.

Matt and Byrne went after each other with a vengeance.

If teams formed up, each declared, “No way!” to the inclusion of the other on his team. They’d rather “be dead” than to be on the same side as his nemesis. Whenever a disagreement erupted, it usually stemmed from an argument between Matt and Byrne. While Matt was the more vocal of the two, it was clear neither cared much for the other. A polite exterior can cover a world of irritation and instigation.

Finally, Matt commanded Byrne to “stay away from me, just go, far, far away!”

Well, I thought. This is a classroom of seven students. In a classroom of twenty-four, there might be hope of “hiding” with another friend. However, we’re all we’ve got, so we need to learn to get along. Still, that's not the point. Ultimately the question is this: Just how far, far away do troublesome-to-us people have get from those of us who are the Body of Christ?

Matt’s command meant the opposite needed to be done. Instead of separation, it was time for Matt and Byrne to be joined together.

After having them apologize and forgive each other (they were both at fault for the incident leading up to this moment), I moved their desks so that they butted up to and faced each other. “Start enjoying each other’s company. Start loving each other’s faces. You are going to be spending a lot of time with each other,” I instructed them.

Within days Matt and Byrne discovered they giggled at the same things. They had to cooperate in order not to crowd each other’s work space, but not once did they argue. (They didn’t dare! Whatever they thought they could dish out, they knew the deac could handle!) Bit-by-bit, the playground took on a kinder atmosphere. The boys still bopped each other eagerly, but Matt and Byrne weren't tyrannizing each other.

That was three weeks ago. Yesterday Matt admitted Byrne “wasn’t so bad after all.” Today Byrne said Matt was “really pretty cool and funny.” Their desks are no longer head-to-head now, but they are side-by-side. They like it that way. Byrne has a friend to look up to. Matt has someone who understands his sense of humor.

Disposability is the operating system of our universe. It is the pattern of our worldview. If it’s broke, replace it; if your friend offends thee, don't worry about seeking his repentance (or yours)- just get a new one. This is not the way of baptism, but of consumerism.

We teach our students that God has a different operating system. He fixed what was broken with His own perfect Son’s body. His Jesus’ flesh was broken, and His blood spilled for our sins. In Baptism Christ covers our brokenness with His perfection. We are made one in Him. How can those who are one in Christ Body go “far, far away” from others who are also in Christ’s Body? For, what happens to one who is in Christ also affects all who are in Him. So how those who are in Christ treat each other is how they are treating Christ Himself. Sometimes butting heads leads to butting desks to make the point.

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