Chosen People–Amos 3:1-2

Originally posted on Monday, September 6, 2004

A couple of years ago, Alyson, my number-two daughter, enrolled in my Composition I online class. One of the nice perks of teaching at JCCC is that we get free tuition for ourselves and our dependents. I say free, but the tuition isn’t precisely free. Instead, we enroll in the classes and pay for them up front. We turn in a simple form indicating what classes are being taken. Then, when the student completes the course with a grade of C or better, the tuition is reimbursed. That’s as close to free as a person could really hope.

In order to take advantage of my free tuition for Alyson’s class, I had to not only fill out the appropriate form but ask my department head, John, to sign it. John, a retired Air Force officer who never married (or had kids) doesn’t always understand family issues.

When I took the form into his office and requested his signature, we fell into a conversation regarding teachers having their own children as students. After a couple of minutes of such talk, he observed, “It is sort of a conflict of interest, isn’t it?”

I wasn’t entirely sure of his point, since the chance for a teacher to inflate a single student’s grade-point average seemed awfully minimal. I guess my mystified look communicated my lack of understanding.

“I mean, the parent will want to get the tuition reimbursed, so there’s an incentive to ensure that the student receives at least a C.”

Knowing John for the past four years, I’m pretty certain that he meant this in the abstract and not as a suggestion that I’d do anything improper. But his lack of understanding struck me as amazing.

“John,” I objected. “Don’t you see that for me or any parent, the desire to get our kids a good education will far outweigh any desire to get a couple of hundred bucks in reimbursement?” By the time I left his office, I think he did understand.

In the end, of course, he had no call for concern. Alyson, as a Comp I student, got far more attention from her professor than any of that professor’s other students. She ultimately made an A in the course, but I am fairly certain that I put her through more to get that A than anybody else. I required revisions that I’d have never asked from others. I made notations on minor defects that I’d have let slide from other students. Alyson got the best of me as a teacher, but at times that probably seemed like she got the worst of me. It served her well when she breezed through Comp II with my colleague.

Just as Alyson was my chosen student who got not only the best of my instruction but the harshest of my correction, Israel was God’s chosen people who received the greatest of his bounty along with the most demanding of his commandments. Things that the Lord would have allowed to pass uncriticized from the Philistines or the Assyrians were not ignored when they came from the Israelites. They were his chosen people. “Therefore, I will punish you for all your sins.”

You and I are God’s chosen people. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, when God asks more of us than he asks from unbelievers. He chastises those he loves. It’s hard sometimes being a chosen person. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.