“When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’” (Matthew 9:11 NIV)
This week has been another busy one. One of the things I’ve done is attend Open House for my son. He entered middle school and now has seven different teachers. For Open House, I was asked to follow my son’s schedule and visit each of his classes. Each teacher had a presentation sharing the requirements of the class as well as a little of what goes on during each day. As I listened to each teacher inform us of their history, experience and goals for the year, I was impressed. Some had been teaching for their whole adult lives, others switched to teaching somewhere along the way. But each one had taught for over ten years. One man had been teaching for thirty years.
As I sat there listening to each teacher, I wondered why they do what they do. Why do they get up every single morning just to spend the day with middle-schoolers? Personally, I wish I could skip these years in a child’s life, yet these people actually spend time with these kids on purpose. Why?
The Pharisees asked the disciples the same question about Jesus. Why would anyone associate himself with tax collectors and sinners? The tax collectors were crooks. They stole and everyone knew it and yet we find Jesus spending time with them. He sits and eats with them. Could it be that Jesus saw something in them that others didn’t see?
Jesus came to change lives. He taught anyone who would listen. And when He came across the undesirables, He spent time with them. He purposely went to those who needed Him most. The Pharisees only looked at the actions of those around them. They put their faith in their behavior. Their judgment of others was also based on performance. On the other hand, Jesus based His opinion on potential. He saw what someone could be, not what they were.
I think these teachers have the same reasoning. They see potential. And regardless of what they have endured, they show up every day with hope. They hope to make a difference. They hope to encourage and educate and inspire. This isn’t just a job for them. This is their mission in life. And I admire them for that.
I pray for my eyes to be opened in order to look deeper. Help me see what you see and to love as you love. I pray I would not push others aside because they don’t behave well. Instead, I ask that you would give me the courage to invest my time in their lives.