Monday, April 18, 2016

"Everyone else is"

I glanced at the clock. Not even 12:30, and already I wished the school day was over. I knew how the kids felt. They must be impatient for Spring Break to begin as well. Their behavior certainly said so.

It was nearing the end, though. After being pulled to cover for meetings where there were no substitute teachers, only study halls remained before the students would be herded into the auditorium to watch a documentary for the rest of the afternoon. Two study halls had been canceled, and I had just gotten through one. That left only one more before the movie. How bad could it be?

The kids traipsed in, and took their seats at the computers as I gave out the instructions. Those who had forgotten their login info were doomed to reading. Most of the students, though, found talking about spring break plans with their peers more compelling than following directions.

As I tried to still the room back into a studious quiet, someone decided to make sound effects. As soon as I called Kevin* over, the room buzzed again.

I took a deep breath, begging for a little more patience. "Kevin," I asked, "why did you start making those noises right after I told everyone to stop?"

Kevin looked up at me, his dark eyes wide behind his glasses. As if I'd asked him to eat a ream of paper. "But everyone else's talking."

For a moment, I didn't know what to say. I had called for quiet because everyone was talking. Was he being smart with me? "But why are you talking when I asked everyone to stop?" I asked again.

The same stare. My goodness, the kid means it! "Everyone else is," he said again, faltering a little.

I bit my lip. He wasn't a bad kid. I had been in his classroom a couple of times last year. But how could I make him understand?

The room crept into a roar. I called for quiet again, and turned back to him. "Kevin," I said, "I asked you to stop. Do you think you should keep talking afterwards, regardless of what anyone else does?"

A blank stare. I was losing him. I tried again, keeping my voice calm. "Do you think you should?"

No change. The kid could've been a statue. I kept back my sigh. "Please, stop," I said, motioning him back.  As he returned to his computer, I quieted the room again. But I couldn't get our conversation out of our mind.

Because I had done the same thing so many times.

We all do, if we're honest. Whether it's the language we use, the TV shows we watch, or the music we listen to, we judge how we should act based on those around us.

Why shouldn't I read 50 Shades? Everyone else is...

I really shouldn't peek at those test answers, but the rest of the class is, so it's not really cheating if we're all doing it...

How can abortion really be murder? All those scientists say it's just a bunch of cells...

I really don't feel right about going to that party, but all my friends are going, so I guess it's okay...

God gave us the Bible to guide us in our decisions, but we tend to ignore it in favor of popular opinion. Like Kevin, who reasoned that there was no reason for him to stop talking if other kids didn't, we think that we get a free pass because of other people's behavior.

But that's just a lie Satan likes to tell us, that we're too willing to believe. After all, it's hard to stay strong and refuse to participate when "everyone else" is. It's much easier just to go along with it, to do what we really want to do anyway, to sugarcoat it in the "everyone else is" wrapper.

I really like this glass. I'll take it, the restaurant has more. And my friend is taking the dip bowl, so it's not that big of deal.

I don't really feel like going to work today. I have so much at home to get done. I'll just take a sick day, that's what everyone else does.
Since when did our standard become what "everyone else" is doing? God's Word is supposed to be the sole authority in our lives. We're supposed to judge our behavior, make our decisions, based on what the Bible says is right and wrong, not what our friends or the media or scientists or any other person says.

I want to read that book, but the reviews say it's full of sleeping around. I want to think about pure things...

This test would be so much easier if I could just take a quick look, but it's wrong to cheat...

The Bible says God forms us in the womb...

If my conscience is telling me not to go, I shouldn't...

I really do like this glass, but it's not mine...

I have a responsibility to my boss, and those sick days are for when I'm sick, not when I don't feel like going...

We need to return to the Bible as our guide, not popular opinion. God's standards don't change with people's whims. What He said was wrong 2000 years ago when the Bible was written is still wrong today. If we truly serve Him, if we truly desire to please Him, why are we letting Satan convince us otherwise?

We can't let "everyone else" be our cop-out any more.

*This isn't his real name, but as best as I remember, the rest of the story is how it happened.

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