Wednesday, July 22nd 2 Kings 2:23-25

He went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go away, baldhead! Go away, baldhead!” When he turned around and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and then returned to Samaria. 2 Kings 2:23-25

Now here is a Bible passage that one doesn’t see often in a devotion. I doubt a single children’s sermon has ever been preached on this text. Even in the old days of “Sunday School by flannel graph”, there weren’t many teachers prepared with two little cut-out she-bears and the 42 naughty kids they mauled. But, just like you sometimes discover when you read a list of ingredients, believe it or not, it’s in there.

Evidently Elisha sported a hairline of a rapidly receding manner when a gang of hooligans caught the blood scent of someone they could pick on so they attacked him with those “words that are never supposed to harm us.” The text doesn’t say whether or not the words harmed Elisha but it leaves nothing to the imagination about whether or not the guardian angel she-bears harmed the little bullies.

It is a fun little story. We need not make much of it. We don’t need to look for deep symbolical references or otherwise seek to make sense of a horrible story. Perhaps parents through the ages might have pulled it out as evidence that it isn’t wise for kids to tease bald men.

But I doubt that would stop them. Especially when they gather in the safety of numbers.

Please understand, any picture of the teenaged years that sounds idyllic is also quite a fantasy. The growing up years can be incredibly cruel. Kids pick on other kids. Incessantly. Intolerably. Cafeterias can be a gauntlet of well defined social classes, misfits and miscreants. Bullies and the bullied huddle in their respective corners, some planning their next attack while others cower and long for the end of the day.

A story appeared in the news this past year of a young kid who went home from school one day and ended his own life. He couldn’t take the abuse any longer. At least his tragic story made the news.

As children of God we are followers of the Prince of Peace. He told us that to love him is to love other people. This, more than denominational name tags, liturgical aerobics or membership on a church roster is what it means to live a Christian life. We can never teach or learn this lesson too often for the sin which lies within us is ever ready to pounce on the weak, the vulnerable, the different, the other.

We dropped off our son at the bus this morning for his trip to the National Youth Gathering in New Orleans. I looked at a group of kids, most of whom I’ve known since they were babies, some of whom I baptized. I know their wonder but I also know their capacity to inflict and absorb pain on and from one another. So I pray for their safety and I pray that they simply be kind, gracious and hospitable to one another. The stakes are much higher than they realize.

Let us pray: Forgive us, Lord Jesus, for the unkind words and deeds that we have inflicted needlessly on others. Forgive us for laughing at that which isn’t funny. Help us see you reflected in the lives of every human being you have made – black, white, brown, gay, straight, tall, short, boy, athletic, shy, rich, poor, girl, Christian, Muslim, Jew and every other stitch of diversity you have woven into the rich fabric of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: