church bus Lost people act lost

Recently I drove the church bus for a short trip with our youth group.  It’s the first time I’ve been trusted with the bus since I tried to drive it under the church rain-shelter (which was several feet shorter) a few summers ago.  Trusted with the bus once more, I was elated!  I had outlived my unfortunate nickname:  ‘Crash.’

However, despite the excitement I was later deflated.  A bus full of teens is always overflowing with energy, laughter and gentle teasing.  But the bus on the way home was filled with the sounds of anger and taunting.  There were shouts and accusations, threats and counter-threats.  I maintained control (of the bus and my temper).  We made it back to the church without blood loss or law-enforcement involvement.

The regular members of the youth group filed off, eyes open, dazed.

Later I learned that some specific young people were the instigators. And that they were new to our group, and came from very difficult backgrounds. Not an excuse, but an explanation.   And as I debriefed the event,  I learned a wonderful and instructive saying from our excellent youth minister, Amanda.  ‘Lost people act lost.’

Most of the kids on the bus were ‘nice kids.’  They are church regulars from good families.  Their eyes were opened by the way the disruptive kids behaved.  Their eyes were opened because they are sheltered.

It was an excellent teaching opportunity, which Amanda wisely grabbed onto immediately.  She told the shocked kids the same; that ‘lost people act lost.’

The kids who were ‘problems’ are exactly the kids who need the gospel.  The kids who push us, who prod and test us, are the kids who need us.  The same goes for adults.

It’s a lesson for everyday life, in church, in the ER, at the store, everywhere.  It should help us not to judge, because when we judge the lost we are judging people who play by different rules; indeed, people who may not even know the rules.

Of course, our bus lesson should also remind us that as Christians, we aren’t better.  We aren’t good.  We are redeemed. We are being transformed.  But in point of fact, when it comes to the cosmic bus, we aren’t any nicer than anyone else.

But when we are saved, when we are redeemed, we are made nice…over time.  Saved people act saved, you might say.  But not always, just as lost people sometimes act nice.

The church makes one of its most grave errors when it teaches, young and old alike, that Christianity is about niceness, or politeness and evil is about being mean, or bad or profane.  Because when it does, we come to believe that our salvation comes from our behavior, rather than the contrary.

I think it’s all well with our little rebels.  They apologized and I told them I hope to get to see them next week.

But in the end, as in everything, there was a lesson for us all.  Lost people act lost.  And found people, as someone wisely said, ‘find people.’

And only in Christ are we good anyway.


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