Notice: The beatings will continue until morale improves. — Motivational poster in an office break room

I’ve been marching almost my entire life… that is, until I learned how to dance.

Marching is slavery. It’s adhering, and imitating, and fitting in, and doing what you think you’re supposed to do. It’s a life of stress and strife. It’s performing and observing traditions and following rules and trying to please, and emulating, and replicating… (Well, it’s at least attempting to do all that – but who can live up to it all?) The thing is, we didn’t start off in Christ as slaves at all – neither did the Galatians.

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. —Galatians 5:7-8

Who cut me off from the truth of grace? It was Mrs. Olson, my first grade teacher. I was a free kid before I met her. I was dancing like I was created to dance – and then, she gave me my first elementary school report card. For the first time, I saw in black and white what it meant to be “satisfactory” (smiles and kudos) and “not-satisfactory” (frowns and head wagging).

I’m telling you, life started getting screwed up with our elementary school report cards, the major induction into the world where we are judged for our effort, behavior, and performance. We get beat up under that system every day in school, at work, in marriage, and in ministry too. And the beatings don’t just come from others. Back when I was marching, I was either beating myself up, disappointed in myself, comparing myself to others, or proud of myself, depending on how well I performed.

But what if – I’m just throwing out a hypothetical here, okay? – what if, way back in the day, your first grade teacher had loved you intensely just the way you were. What if she had sincerely and passionately enjoyed you just because she adored youAnd what if she had given you an A+ before you even started the class, confident that you would become exactly who she wanted you to be?

Okay, so, that wasn’t just a hypothetical. You recognize where I’m going with this, don’t you...

Master Teacher, it was for freedom that You loved me and set me free. Open my eyes so that I can see those who “cut in” on me and cut me off from the truth of grace. Open my mind to imagine the transforming implications of You loving me and already giving me an A+ in life. Amen. 

P.S. Mrs. Olson, if you happen to read this, no hard feelings.