May 21, 2014
But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:14-15
Florida's 12-year-old Giovanni Rubeo was in trouble with his teacher.
No, he wasn't being disrespectful, and he wasn't being a bully to other students. Rubeo hadn't neglected his homework, and he wasn't regularly skipping class. He hadn't brought guns or knives to school, and he wasn't being defiant.
That being said, Rubeo was told to dial his home phone number. When he did as instructed, while the rest of the class watched and listened, the teacher took the phone and left a rather brusque message on the parent's answering machine.
But maybe I am getting ahead of myself. I should back up and tell you Rubeo had been in trouble before. The teacher had decided his selection of reading material during "free reading time" had been offensive. More than once the teacher had confronted Rubeo about his choices in reading material. On other occasions he complied with her order to "Put that book away." This time, with his father's blessing, Rubeo declined. That's when the teacher left the following message:
"I noticed that he has a book -- a religious book -- in the classroom. He's not permitted to read those books in my classroom."
Did you get that? The teacher said that during "free reading time," which is when the kids are allowed to pick a book of their own choice, Rubeo is not allowed to read religious material, in this case, a Bible. The boy's outraged father maintains the folks at his son's school and school district need to understand the concept of freedom of religion. Legal experts agree with dad and say they also need to understand the guidelines put out by the U.S. Department of Education. (To see the official government position on Bible reading, see the reference and link after the prayer.)
Now it's tragic that any young student in our nation should have to face such non-violent persecution, but we can still give thanks. We can give thanks because, from start to finish, Rubeo's family has followed the instructions given in 1 Peter. When their faith was challenged,
1. they were prepared to make a defense of their faith;
2. they gave an answer for the hope they have in the Redeemer;
3. they gave their response with gentleness and respect.
There is little doubt this kind of persecution will increase in years to come. By God's grace and the Holy Spirit's power, may we prepare our young people to stand firm for the Lord Jesus who gave His life for their forgiveness and salvation.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we give thanks for the opportunity to stand up for the Savior who stood strong for us. Grant that our witness may touch others and point them to the Savior who gave His life for our forgiveness. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
REFERENCE: "... students may read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray or study religious materials with fellow students during recess, the lunch hour, or other non-instructional time to the same extent that they may engage in nonreligious activities."
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries