Imagine this scene – you might have to cast your mind back a few years. You’re walking through a corridor in a modern school building. As you can expect there are colourful displays on the walls, the older ones look a little worse-for-wear, much like some of the kids.
Everyone walks around in twos or threes, chatting away about all manner of things. It’s the morning so people still look pretty fresh and ready for the day.
You pass through this corridor, notice the Lino floor, grey walls and lockers on your left.
A knot tightens in your stomach
There is a lump in your throat
Because unlike many of the other kids, you are walking alone.
Your ill-fitting school uniform seems out of place in its neatness.
You are walking alone, you always walk alone.
The rush of panic passes as you enter your classroom. Seated, the dread comes like a darkened cloud.
The teacher at the front calls for attention:
So Cliff College, where I live and study, has recently began a scheme in cooperation with local churches to provide long term placements for the students. I think it’s a stroke of genius. We believe God works through long term commitment and relationship, so that’s what we’re doing.
I suppose this placement is going to be a challenge for me.
It’s not because of the casual swearing, the sex, the drugs and alcohol.
Not because of the banter and playing about
Not even because of the criminal records many of these kids carry.
It’s because for more than 6 years of my life, it was these kinds of kids that made my life hell on earth.
And now I am expected to bless them. Caring for their lives, shepherding them through their teenage years.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
So standing in the cold wind, outside a corner shop somewhere in a vast city with these kids, the voice of God came. I was reminded of these words of Paul
So let’s establish that I am a new creation. Yay, praise Jesus, ain’t that nice.
And yet this oft-quoted truth has various consequences. Paul does not allow this ‘new creation’ idea to mean anything we want it to. The new creation exists for the same purpose as Christ himself did, reconciling the world to God.
But for me, here’s the tough part
not counting their trespasses against them
I’m not sure how to do that right now. Because the sin of those in my old school had and has very real consequences, which this community (cliff) is unfortunately experiencing from me at the moment.
Perhaps the best thing to do it pray.
Father, please show me how to liveYou have made me a new creation, and given me a great purposeAnd placed me with these kids to reconcile them to youHelp me to forgive and to loveAnd to replicate Christ in all thingsAmen