“You’re afraid of me. You’re afraid I won’t love you back. And guess what? I’m afraid too. But at least I have the balls to give it a shot. At least I’m honest with you.” — Skylar in Good Will Hunting

John 1:35-39
2 Kings 2:1-12
John 8:31-47 (esp. 31-32)

We don’t remember what we learned in school. We remember the hard lessons of the hallway, or the cafeteria lunch table. But little of the chalkboard material and exam data remain with us. That only lingers when the teacher engages us where we live.

Check the movie “Good Will Hunting.” Gifted Will has two teachers. Professor Lambeau wants to facilitate Will’s prodigious mind. Community college sage Sean hopes to help Will’s humanity. He seeks to teach something of healing and hope. Will is a genius. And he’s broken. Abused and abandoned repeatedly as a child, he now abuses and abandons others.

One teacher cares about Will’s ability. The other cares about his soul. Sean, the teacher who’s experienced real pain, possesses the tools to lead Will out of his isolation and fear. Will doesn’t become a Nobel Laureate as Lambeau hopes. Over time, he does begin to become free and alive.

Sean enters the place where Will lives. He enters into the abode of his hurts. Sean leads him out because he has walked paths of real pain, and he’s survived the aches with awareness.

We all have some of Will in us. Many will admit there’s something broken in them, and most also admit they can’t repair it. The teachers we need, the Seans, can take us into the inner world, the place where we live. Most of us, however, find only Lambeaus in classrooms or pulpits or workplaces. While benignly intentioned, these can only work with the outer world of our abilities. The broken remains.

Jesus has known brokenness. He’s also known love and wisdom and joy. He taught these things to a few broken people some years ago, and it changed their world. It changed ours.

Might Jesus still have something to teach us about life? Can he still take us over the terrain he’s traversed? The difficulty for us, as for Will, lies in believing this teacher is worth the risk.

He’ll ask us to open our closed fists to embrace an abusive world. He’ll tell us we need to move through pain, not away from it. He’ll instruct us to give if we want to receive, and to die if we want to live. That’s crazy. That’s risky. And we know from the past that the stakes are high, too high not to risk.

Who has taught you the most about life?
Who or what has required you to take the greatest risks?
Does anything from Jesus’ teachings strike you as risky? 


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