rotten appleNot very long ago, I was at the local Quik Sak grabbing a Dr. Pepper and some Chocolate. I entered the store and saw a couple of local kids getting some Dr. Peppers as well. One of them remembered that I was a pastor from down the street, and said “hi” as I walked up. He went on to ask how I was doing, and I returned the question.

I went on to ask how long until they get out of school, which turns out to be the beginning of June. I then said, “Man, I’m so glad that I’m done with school. It is so nice to just be done with it. Not having to go back unless I choose to.”

One of the kids asked me how far I had gotten, to which I replied that I’d attained my Masters. I could go farther, but I’m just not feeling it.

Ok, all that just to get to this point:

He said, “I’m never going to do that. I’m failing everything. I skip classes all the time. I’m a bad kid.”

I was a little dismayed that he would refer to himself as a “bad kid,” so I said, “It doesn’t mean that you’re bad. You’re just making some dumb choices. You could…” This is where he interrupts with, “No, I’m a bad kid.”

He wasn’t bragging. If anything, he was apologetic. The other kid finished making his purchase and they headed towards the door. He waved “bye” to me, and away he went.

I wanted to scream out, “YOU’RE NOT A BAD KID! DON’T BELIEVE THE LIE!”

I mean, it isn’t like he’s Osama Bin Laden or anything. Actually, this is one of the best write-ups/understandings as to why some rejoicing may be acceptable at another person’s demise.

But back to my point.

He’s to young to be bad, I mean really bad. To have chosen so many categorically bad things (like killing thousands of innocent people), as to become so calloused that not a shred of goodness meaningfully touches your soul…That just isn’t any kid that I know.

I wish that I could sit down with him and say, “You are created in the image of God. Sure, you’re not perfect, instead we refer to ourselves as fallen or broken. But, that doesn’t mean that we’re categorically evil. It sure doesn’t mean that we are irredeemable.  Instead, you have seeds of greatness within you. You just need to let God water it, and nurture it. He knows what you really are, and he said that you’re at least worth the life and death of his son.”

I’m sure there is a more appropriate way to say that to a young teenager, but that is in my heart.

How would you put it?