To say that the past year has been difficult for people around the world is an understatement. For many reasons, it’s been a time of heartbreak, loss, change, and reflection. As my team and I were coming back together last fall after several months of teaching and working apart, we all shared some of our struggles from that time. Some had experienced illness themselves or watched loved ones suffer. For others it was the isolation, and they were craving interaction. For several it was teaching in a virtual environment. For others it was just navigating the realities of life in the midst of a global pandemic.
As a borderline introvert and someone who taught online before the pandemic necessitated it, those things hadn’t been burdening me as much. Instead, I was troubled by other headlines. Current events that, while current, were also reminders of injustice throughout history that we haven’t broken through as a society. While some headlines boasted of people uniting under the pressure of a public health crisis, others revealed inequality and injustice that manifest themselves in harmful ways. People of color and of certain ethnic backgrounds targeted in violent acts and disproportionate access to necessities like food, water, healthcare, educational services, and even internet access were the things that were troubling me.
How was it that I was living in a country with such great wealth and means, but these most basic human rights and needs weren’t accessible for all? What did these injustices mean for my students? What did they mean for me as a teacher? Specifically, for me as a teacher who follows the Master Teacher?
I began to reflect on my own experiences in my home country as well as the time I have lived and traveled abroad. I searched my own biases and prejudices. I examined the areas of privilege in my own life and the basic human rights that I take for granted which others may not have.
And I read. I read all that I could find in the Word about justice, equality, unity in diverse situations, and love. I read books written by people from other walks of life who had experienced things that I hadn’t, people who could educate me on the injustices I had not lived but that had occurred around me all of my life.
Through all of that reading and reflection, I developed some very good arguments for why justice was Biblical, equality was civil, and why things needed to change in our world. However, the reading and reflection didn’t help me find a solution or make me feel better about any of it. I was just better equipped to talk about it.
Then one day, I stumbled across a social media post from an author and speaker I follow, Bob Goff. He said, “Stop agreeing with [the Master Teacher] and start acting like Him.” That struck me because I had spent months finding arguments and opinions to agree with but spent very little time acting on any of them. I had developed compassion for those in unjust situations but hadn’t done anything to make those situations more just. I had well-articulated reasons for why certain actions or circumstances were wrong but had done nothing to make them right. I even had verses to justify my position but hadn’t been living out those verses in love. Simply put, I hadn’t been acting like the Master Teacher. I had simply been agreeing with Him.
Whenever the Master Teacher taught a lesson or told a story, it was always demonstrated with His actions. He didn’t just speak of love for all, He demonstrated it by dining with the tax collectors and adulterers. He didn’t just speak of forgiveness, but He also forgave the ones who betrayed and killed him. He didn’t just speak of sacrifice, but He gave up His own life for us to live.
So, what does He require of us? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him.
For those of us who are teachers, He expects us to teach the right things, to believe and say the right things, but to also live out the right things in front of and on behalf of our students in love. We are called to project their voice when they are not heard, shed light on unjust circumstances when they are not seen, and work together to find solutions so that all learners have access to the basic things that we all need. In this, we not only move toward a more just world that looks more like the Kingdom described in the Word, but we also point others toward the Master Teacher. The one we act like, not just agree with.
 Micah 6:8.