Did you ever have a teacher who was horrible? Maybe you’ve had several bad teachers, and hopefully, you’ve had a few good teachers as well. Recently, I was remembering a few of the teachers I’ve had who were no bueno. They were probably doing their best and not purposefully unkind, but a few of my teachers had some severely negative impacts on me. One of them even humiliated me in front of the entire class, telling me that I was stupid, arrogant, irresponsible and entirely oblivious to his subject matter.
I had another teacher who was also dismissive, degrading and surly. This was a Bible teacher. It’s unfortunate that this person facilitated disdain for Christianity among students rather than passionate love for Jesus. When I reflect on this teacher, it makes me nauseous, except for a recent experience.
In my daily Bible reading, a few days ago, I started reading John, my all-time favorite Gospel and maybe my favorite book in the Bible. I’m reading it very slowly, like savoring a delicious meal, tasting wonderful flavors, and absorbing delectable truth. As I was reading the first few verses of John 1, it reminded me of a powerful experience I had with these verses under the direction of the Bible teacher I just described.
In this Bible class, each student was assigned a passage of scripture to study and interpret using an extensive hermeneutical process. Our study was to take up the whole semester, working in class and ultimately writing a long paper with our findings. The passage I was assigned was John 1:1-14. I remember when I first read these verses, I was baffled and wished that I’d been given an easier passage. Nevertheless, I began to work through the steps outlined by the teacher to properly interpret my passage so that I could understand deeply what was being said by John and ultimately God. Some of the verses in this passage that continue to anchor me include:
- John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
- John 1:14a, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, . . .”
As I’ve been reading this passage now, many years after that initial deep dive assigned by the surly Bible teacher, I have very fond recollections of learning to study the Bible in that class. The teacher was a lemon, but God’s sweetness and love turned the Bible into a tasty lemonade that continues to slake my thirst and hunger for God.
When I think about this experience, I recognize that God took a bad situation and gave me some good stuff out of it. Maybe this is what Paul is saying in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
What I experienced in that Bible class is a good example of how God can take lemons and make lemonade. I would suggest that it’s necessary for us to love God and stay true to God’s purposes in our lives if God is going to take the sour and distasteful things in our lives and turn them into some constructive and tasty. Let’s stay in love with God, available for God to love us and love through us so that our world can experience God’s sweet love for them!