Pin It I stood between the two boys on the playground. It was obvious that they were still upset with each other, and that’s when it slipped out.
I didn’t mean for it to…it just did.
“Would Jesus do that?” I couldn’t believe it, the second the words left my mouth something inside of my brain seemed to register what I’d just said, and the mistake I’d just made.
Goodbye separation of church and state.
Living in a society where religion is freely talked about by students on a daily basis is still no excuse for an educator to do so. However, it wasn’t as if I’d planned on saying it, right? In fact, you could almost say that I’d been tricked into it, really. As I’d listened to the two boys complain about each other, and the reasons why each of them had done what they’d done, the conversation kept coming back to: “Well, during Scouts at the church…” and “At the church he said ________ when we were at Scouts…”
There was so much talk about church going on that I really couldn’t help saying it, right?
However, it didn’t matter; what was said was said, and no amount of wishing at this point was going to take it back. In my mind I was secretly thinking, Holy cow, now that I just said that, what do I do? Really, I couldn’t foresee anything else which could be done at this point other that to simply run with it.
So I did.
“Well, Joey?” I asked again. “If Jesus were here would he have been making fun of Mark when he couldn’t throw the ball? Could you see him yelling, ‘Hey, Mark! You’re a loser! You can’t do anything right!’?”
Joey looked at me with his wide eyes. “Well, no. Jesus wouldn’t do that.”
I then turned to Mark. “And Mark,” I said slowly. “If Jesus were here, would he push people around if they said something mean to Him and start hitting them?”
I waited for an answer, but already knew what it would be. Really, how could you argue with that? Who can argue with Jesus? That’s right…nobody. Nobody can mess with the Big J!
Mark’s eyes also fell to the ground, as if wishing it would swallow him up. “No, Jesus wouldn’t do that to anybody, Mr. Z.”
“Well,” I said, feeling like I was actually teaching a Sunday School lesson. “If Jesus wouldn’t do those things then why do you two do it to each other?”
Both boys looked at me, each other, and then back at the ground in complete silence.
“What should I do?” I asked, eying them both. “It would be so easy for me to just give you both an action slip, and then be done with it. However, I don’t know if that would actually solve the problem. If I did that, you two would still just go on secretly hating each other, wouldn’t you?”
The boys stared at me blankly, as if into an oncoming headlights of a Mack Truck.
“So you tell me what we should do. Do you want to work it out, or should I just give you each an action slip?”
“Well,” I said with a belabored breath. “Then it looks like I get to choose. I guess it’s action slips for both of you.”
Mark staggered back with a look of devastation on his face, but Joey looked at me and spoke in a tentative voice, “But Mr. Z, Jesus wouldn’t do that either.”
Admittedly, I made up the last three lines, but only because it was a lot funnier than what really happened. For it came to pass that the boys decided that working it out would be a much better solution, and then being “sort of” friends after that. However, they did promise not to be mean to each other anymore…this was fine with me because I really didn’t want to be dealing with this problem in the first place—after all, neither of them were even my students.
We ended the peace talks with promises to be kinder toward each other. It was at this point that I gave the old “you-guys-can-do-better” pep-talk. We finished it all off with a group hug, and everyone went back to their classes feeling a little more loved and understood.
After all, that’s what Jesus would have done.