As the Senior High Sunday School class began, Mrs. Jones told the students, “Today your assignment is to draw a picture of someone you dislike or with whom you are currently angry. After you have finished, I will allow you to throw darts at the person’s picture.” Each of the students began working on the drawing, most with great enthusiasm. Sarah drew a picture of the girl who she thought had stolen her boyfriend. Angie’s sketch was of her little brother. Joey’s drawing was of his step-father. Matt drew a likeness of the captain of the high school football team. Lisa’s picture, which included fine details, bore a clear resemblance to Mrs. Jones.
After the students had completed their drawings, Mrs. Jones had them line up twelve feet from a dart board. Each student placed their work on a white sheet of paper in the middle of the board and then threw five darts at the picture. There was much laughter and hilarity and many of the students cheered when a dart would squarely hit the intended target. Some of the students threw the darts with such force that their drawings ripped apart. Lisa looked forward to her turn and was filled with disappointment when Mrs. Jones said that the class time was almost over and asked the students to return to their seats.
As Lisa sat thinking of how irritating she found this teacher, Mrs. Jones removed the white sheet of paper which had been the middle of the target. Turning it over, she showed the students what they all understood to be a picture of Jesus. A complete hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled picture. Holes and jagged marks covered His face and both of His eyes were pierced out. Amidst the silence, Mrs. Jones looked at the class and simply said, “The Lord Jesus told us that ‘inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you have done it unto me.” No other words were necessary. The eyes of every student, many of them tear-filled, focused only on the picture of Jesus.
Friends, the Lord Jesus has indeed told us to “love your enemies and do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27).” Even the nastiest people tend to be nice to people who are nice to them. A distinctive characteristic of a Christian who has experienced God’s grace is a willingness to forgive those who have wronged us, instead of seeking revenge. We are to treat others as we would want to treat Jesus.
Yours, asking God for the grace to love those who don’t love me,
Rev. Dan Erickson
Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church