If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
I started something different recently in the Wednesday night service I lead at my local church. Instead of another children’s sermon with kids sitting in neat rows, I started breaking them into groups. The purpose-conversation, fellowship and unity.
“Group 4 will be “Susie, Kelly, Aaron, and Johnny” (Names changed to protect the young and innocent).
First, I heard it. “Aaron?” In a judgmental and exasperated tone.
Then, I saw it. The eye rolls, the face made and directed at the chosen child.
All from children who were being taught week after week to love others.
On the way home that night, my daughter began to talk of her own experience with judgement and exasperation. With the girl she had struggled to get along with all year, and who just didn’t seem to like her. “She tries to tell others not to play with me, and threatens them if they do.” With the girl that made fun of her wacky hair, on get this…wacky hair day! The girl that shouted profanities at her for taking up for a friend.
“Mommy, Why are people just not nice to everyone?”
Good question…why aren’t we a little nicer to each other? And how exactly are kids learning it’s ok not to be?
I am not naive. I was teased in school. I knew school yard bullies, and I had my fair share of girl drama, with a little profanity, too.
I know that not everyone is accepting of differences. That those differences become slurs to be used to berate, to spread hate of anything not like them.
I am not naive, but I still believe in nice.
We are a nation so quick to call out any slight, offense, or use a few thumb strokes to profess our disdain for hate behind our computer screens…while our children are learning exactly how to not be so nice.
Instead of civilly sharing a difference of opinions when we know in fact we are all different, our first response is a quick, witty, I’ll-shut-this-person down insult to prove just how right we are.
Where instead of working conflict out, we use our egos and our need for power to throw people under the bus to attempt to prove how powerful and important we think we are.
Why can’t we just be nice?
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12
After the exasperation and judgment on that Wednesday night, we read this verse as a group. It wasn’t me who was encouraging them to love each other. Some naive, Christian lady, who thinks the world is all butterflies and roses (Because I don’t think that…I just believe in nice, that’s all).
It was Jesus. The one who laid down his innocent life to save us despite all our evil, and not so nice ways. For people who did nothing but spread hate about him. Who sought to encourage others to use a little nice.
Don’t we owe it to him to show love to others? Don’t our kids deserve to see us using kind words with each other? Helping someone who is in need? Talking and fellowship with those that are different? Working out our conflicts without games and deceit? Instead of divided by those differences?
Can’t we just be a little nicer to each other? For our kids? For our nation? For Him?
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, Just as Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32