The Holy Bible is full of some extremely powerful lines of Scripture. But, when I was reading my daily entry in the Our Daily Bread app today, something struck me. It was a verse I know quite well from my youth – John 13:34.
I’ll quote the New King James translation here, since it is the translation I was familiar with being raised in a Christian elementary school:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34 (NKJV)
John 13:34 is Jesus Christ’s Commandment
I like to call this command from Jesus Christ the “11th Commandment.” Unfortunately, that term is used for many other non-Biblical things, so I just like to quote the book, chapter, and verse plainly. The reason that this verse struck me is that it is, very much so, what I needed to hear from His Word today.
First off, I need to admit that I only became a true born again Christian in April 2020, despite being raised Christian in a God-loving home. One of the reasons I mostly abandoned my Christian faith after leaving Christian school was that I wasn’t treated well in my final year there. I was becoming known as a problem child who was willfully misbehaving. But, I had good reason to be that way.
In the fifth grade, I played a major part in a Christmas play. The music teacher’s son was the lead role and I played the co-star. He did a great job. But, after the musical was over, it seemed like I was getting a lot of the attention. I don’t particularly know why. I performed adequately, I thought. Yet, in the aftermath of the play’s success, the music teacher seemed to become extremely jealous of me.
Jealousy Ruins Once Good Christians Quite Badly
She made it very apparent by consistently picking on me during Music class after that. When she made it very clear that I would have no chance oft a role in the upcoming musical, I told her very bluntly that I wanted to have nothing to do with her silly play. I was essentially forced after that to not participate in music class at all. Also, her son, who had been my friend, suddenly never spoke a word to me again.
This was a clear act of favoritism, which isn’t so much what bothered me. It was the clear jealousy and growing hatred of me. Since her husband was a major factor in that church by that point (I went to the school attached to our church) it seemed that I was then singled out by pretty much everybody. Teachers who had been kind and good to me suddenly were making me feel like a black sheep.
I began to lose interest in class and I’d just scribble in my notebook. I’d be consistently handed disciplinary notices I was supposed to bring home to my parents. But, at that point, I’d completely lost respect for the school entirely, and simply tore them up.
About a month before the end of the year, the school did everything it could to try and force me out, all the while being bullied by many kids who used to be my friends. Only one of my friends even stuck by me, at the cost of being alienated himself.
The Bible is the Most Important Book in the Christian Faith and Entire World
I lost respect because what had been a good, wholesome Christian education had been deteriorating for the past couple of years. We were no longer required to bring our Bibles to chapel. I did anyway. Bible study was extremely important to me as a kid. But, the music teacher and some other newer members of the school wanted to dumb down everything because “we were just kids.” I was actually scolded for bringing my Bible and not just following along with everyone else on the screen.
The school had clearly forgotten John 13:34. They not only weren’t being fair to me, but it was clear that they were happy to make me miserable. At least, that’s how I felt, and how my parents felt. The school was being so unfair to me that they said the bullying I was receiving was my fault. They insinuated I was being rightly punished for my defiance.
God was not punishing me. These foolish, poor-acting Christians were being fools because they didn’t like that I didn’t appreciate how they were ruining my school. Fortunately, sixth grade was where that school ended.
Unfortunately, going to public school after that experience shot me into another sort of hell. I’ll get into that another time. But, suffice it to say, I saw the hypocrisy taking over this school I’d once loved. I did forgive them eventually, but the hatred for their actions stuck with me for a long time. It took 22 years for me to finally forgive their nonsense, when I finally and truly accepted Jesus Christ as My Lord and Savior and as the true Son of God and the Living Word.
God’s Plan is So Wise, And I Learned What I Needed to Know and Grow
If they hadn’t done that to me in my final year of school, though, I realize now that I never would have become the Christian that I am becoming now. Every day, I see people losing their faith. Yet, I see so many gaining faith as well through the great apologetics working today like Lee Strobel, Jim Wallace, and many others. They are putting reason and faith together, the way that they should be.
So, now, I’m making it a point to not only forgive, but LOVE and CARE for those Christians who are struggling mightily with their faith. I forgive, love, and care for those who out of fear for a kid that was too smart for zis own good, acted rashly and un-Christian-like.
I should’ve known better at the time to realize that God would deal with them in His own time. Of course, I was 11 years old. I didn’t know any better. Still, the damage they did to my self-esteem and psyche is still with me today. But, God is helping to actively repair it now.
Reaffirm Your Christian Faith Today!
So, if you are dealing with some difficult Christians in your life, read them this verse. In fact, have them re-read the Gospel of John. Point them to apologists – there are plenty online in 2020.
I still haven’t rejoined a church because I’m afraid that I’ll run into a similar problem where my faith is “incompatible” with the congregation at large. But, I know now that I need to minister to those who have lost their way. God is still with us, very much so, and Jesus Christ’s teachings are now more important than ever.
We are in a dark time in our world, much as it was when Jesus was walking the Earth. His Sacrifice and Resurrection are and always have been the key to saving souls. I regret it took me until the age of 33 to finally realize the faith that was growing up until that tender age of 11. But, I’m here now.
And, with all the hate and judgment and suffering in our world, we need John 13:34 more than ever. Whenever I want to snap at someone out of anger, or condemn someone’s foolishness, or some other negative action towards someone, I’ll tell myself John 13:34.
We can rebuke, we can turn away if need to be. But, no matter what, we still need to love our brothers and sisters – especially those wayward siblings in Christ – just as He loves us.
~ Amelia Grace Phoenix Desertsong <3