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No Loopholes

One of the biggest challenges of being a middle school teacher is trying to remember not knowing something that you have known for almost all of your life so that you can teach it to someone who doesn’t know it yet.  What seems to be common sense to me is often new to my students, even basic instructions.

Last week, I gave a short quiz on the five stages of the writing process.  It was just about as straight-forward as a quiz can get.

Here is the definition. What is the term? Here is an example of one stage of the writing process. Name the stage. 

Easy, huh?  I guess it depends on who you are.  When we were grading this quiz (I let them grade their own papers before I look at them so they know where they need to improve), I got all of the questions that I expected.

“Mrs. Sanders, do we count off for spelling?”

“Mrs. Sanders, do you care if it’s not capitalized?”

“Mrs. Sanders, is there anything that I can do for extra credit?  I forgot to study.”

The answer to all of these questions is “no” on a quiz like this, and they know it. They still ask.

However, I got a question this time that threw me a little.  “Mrs. Sanders, do we count it wrong if we didn’t put anything in the blank?”


“Um, yes,” I answered, trying not to make a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me face.  I honestly never thought to tell students that they had to answer every question or it would be counted wrong. I thought that was a given.

“But Mrs. Sanders,” the boy pressed, “I didn’t give a wrong answer.”  He raised his eyebrows and smiled broadly, confident he’d found a loophole.

I looked around for support from my other students.  Surely I wasn’t the only one who thought this line of questioning was ridiculous.  All I got back were blank stares, amused expressions, and shrugs that told me they thought the kid had a point.

I thought for just a second before answering.  “You are looking for the presence of a right answer,” I explained, “not the absence of a wrong answer.  If you don’t see a right answer, count it wrong.”

The light dawned, the boy’s eyebrows lowered, and amused expressions all over the room morphed into looks of begrudging admiration.

Thinking back over that conversation, I have to wonder whether this boy’s approach to test taking isn’t the same one that so many people who are deciding whether or not to give their lives to Christ are taking to eternal questions.  Do they think that if they simply don’t take a stance on spiritual matters, they can’t be wrong and won’t be punished for their sin?

If so, that’s a problem.  There is no neutral ground with God.  The Bible says that you are either for Him or against Him.

One day, every one of us will stand before God and answer for our sin.  When that day comes, only those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ to save them and given their lives to serve Him will pass the test.

I think it goes without saying that those who openly renounce God, choosing a faith that opposes the Truth of Scripture outright, will not enter Heaven. People who do that understand that they are placing their bets on someone other than Jesus to save them.  They know that if they are wrong, they’ll lose out on what Christians have been promised, though many don’t fully grasp the weighty reality of hell.

But what about those who sit the fence their whole lives, unsure whom to believe and too apathetic to seek the Truth for themselves?   What about those who know the Truth but put off making a decision for Christ, assuming they have all the time in the world to commit, and then find out they didn’t have as much time as they thought?

Tragically, they will discover that you can’t leave eternal questions blank.

And it will be too late.

Jesus is the only answer for sin that God can and will accept.  Without Him, we are lost.  No loopholes.

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