Get­ting into good habits for the new school year

The Covington News - - OBITUARIES - ANDY BUTTS COLUM­NIST Andy Butts was born and raised in New­ton County. He is the youth pas­tor at Jour­ney Church in Ox­ford, GA. He loves God, his wife, his chil­dren, food, Ethiopia, and Star Wars.

A new school year has ar­rived in New­ton County. Stu­dents are start­ing a new year with new teach­ers. Some may be start­ing in new schools. I be­lieve this is a time to en­cour­age stu­dents to start new prac­tices. These can be bet­ter study habits, ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties (sports, drama, etc.), or new re­la­tion­ships.

Re­la­tion­ships can be one of the most im­por­tant things dur­ing our school years. Friends in­flu­ence us whether we like it or not. Peo­ple have ei­ther a pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive ef­fect on our lives. For now, let us fo­cus on the pos­i­tive. We can talk about the neg­a­tive another day.

One of my fa­vorite sto­ries about Je­sus is when he meets Zac­cha­eus. Zac­cha­eus was a Jewish tax col­lec­tor. Dur­ing Zac­cha­eus’ time, be­ing a tax col­lec­tor was not good for your pop­u­lar­ity. Tax col­lec­tors were con­sid­ered the worst of the worst. Tax col­lec­tors were likened to thieves be­cause they ba­si­cally were. With Zac­cha­eus be­ing Jewish he was even worse be­cause he stole from his own peo­ple. He was prob­a­bly the most hated per­son in his town.

In Luke 19:1-10 Je­sus goes to Jeri­cho and, as usual, peo­ple were crowd­ing around him. These peo­ple had al­ready heard of Je­sus and what he was do­ing. Zac­cha­eus wanted to see as well. The only prob­lem is that Zac­cha­eus was a short man. So, he de­cided to climb a sycamore tree to get a bet­ter look at this Je­sus guy. When Je­sus saw Zac­cha­eus, Je­sus looked up in the tree and said, “Zac­cha­eus, hurry and come down be­cause to­day I must stay at your house.”

Why did Je­sus have to stay at this guy’s house? Zac­cha­eus was prob­a­bly the most dis­liked man in town. No­body stayed at Zac­cha­eus house. Zac­cha­eus was a traitor and a thief. No­body likes a traitor or a thief. Je­sus did. Let that soak in for a minute. Je­sus stayed at Zac­cha­eus house. Je­sus loved this traitor and thief. Je­sus is not a no­body, he is Je­sus.

Je­sus reached out to the most dis­liked per­son in this town. Let’s be hon­est, he was not just dis­liked he was hated. The en­tire town hated Zac­cha­eus. No one in this town had time for him. Why waste your time with some­one no­body likes? Je­sus did. Why should we “waste” our time with some­one no­body likes? Be­cause Je­sus did.

We need to reach out to those that the world hates or doesn’t have time for. When we do this our chil­dren will see us do this. Our chil­dren need to see this. We need to en­cour­age them to do it. There are chil­dren and teenagers that go to schools every day that are bul­lied or shunned or what­ever word you want to use, just be­cause they are dif­fer­ent. These stu­dents need to be loved the way Je­sus loved Zac­cha­eus. It can make all the dif­fer­ence in the world to them. We need to show our chil­dren how to do this by do­ing it our­selves, be­cause it is not al­ways as easy. By see­ing us do this they will hope­fully mir­ror what we do, just like we should mir­ror what Je­sus did.

Plato said, “All men are by na­ture equal, made all of the same earth by one Work­man; and how­ever we de­ceive our­selves, as dear unto God is the poor peas­ant as the mighty prince.” This still rings true to­day. Let us show our stu­dents by ex­am­ple.

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