Do, For a Change
Although they are both new Christians, Zachary Sellers and his mother Eileen continue to fight and argue like they always have. Both are frustrated, expecting that their lives should be different now.
The next day Zach quickly makes an enemy out of Erica Clark by angrily criticizing her handling of the trains in the Train Room at Whit's End, causing her to storm off. Jack Allen overhears the commotion and learns from Zach about the his frustration over not becoming a better person now that he's a Christian. Jack encourages Zach that the Christian life is a process and requires prayer. Meanwhile, Connie is disappointed to learn from Eugene that he did not appreciate the book for new Christians that she loaned him, or at least not as much as she did when Whit gave it to her after her conversion. Eugene explains that he was "well-versed" in Christianity prior to his conversion and prefers material that is (in Connie's words) "on his level." Eugene does, however, accept Connie's invitation to attend the Bible study she and Jack are preparing for him, Zach and Eileen.
The following day, Erica, who works as a librarian aide at their school library, tries to get revenge on Zach for his behavior toward her the previous day by chatting excessively with a teacher standing in line in front of Zach and forcing Zach to wait longer than necessary. In response Zach erupts into another angry outburst. Erica wryly notes the irony of Zach checking out books on Christianity, prompting Zach to apologize (which Erica accepts). Zach relates the story during the Bible study that evening and is encouraged to take note of the positive changes already seen in his life. Eugene, on the other hand, seems to have just the opposite problem: he is so academic in his approach to Jesus that he doesn’t experience any trials, tribulations, or conflicts in his life at all. He even seems to show off his spiritual discipline a bit, declining Connie's dessert for fasting reasons.
Things only worsen for Zach the next day as he is befriended, and constantly pestered, by an annoying kid named Glenn Adams (whom Zach aptly describes as being "chock full of useless information") during a class field trip to a local science museum. Zach tries to be patient but finally ends up yelling at Glenn and pushing him into a volcano display. When Eileen comes to pick up Zach, Zach confesses to her that he no longer thinks he can be a Christian.
At Whit's End later, Jack observes Eugene giving Erica a brief lesson on the difference between wisdom and knowledge, in the process dismissing the study exercise that Jack had assigned her. Zach enters the store to return a Bible that Jack had gave him, claiming to have given up on being a Christian. Jack explains that Zach is trying too hard to be perfect; he needs to stop relying on himself and start relying on God’s grace, as well as accepting help from others. Zach admits that he wants to try again and leaves — with the Bible. Jack then turns to Eugene, who claims not to be able to relate to Zach's struggles, and explains that as impressive as Eugene's knowledge is, it's meaningless if it doesn’t enter a humble heart.
At their next Bible study, Zach recounts his recent successful efforts to practice patience, which include eating an entire plate of peas with a knife and asking Glenn to be his partner in an upcoming science fair. Zach confidently announces that he's ready for a "real" test — a test which comes sooner than expected as the supposedly-humbled Eugene proceeds to recount his personal testimony... as it relates to the hermeneutical study of the resurrection narratives. "I take it all back," gulps Zach. "I don't think I'm ready for this!"
- Why did Mrs. Sellers think that she and Zach should behave differently now that they’re Christians?
- Was she right?
- Why or why not?
- Was she right?
- Zach said he didn’t think he could be a Christian anymore. Do you think it’s possible for someone to stop being a Christian? Explain your answer.
- Why did Jack feel that Eugene needed to learn more about grace and humility?
Heard in episode
- Recurring character Glenn Adams makes his debut in this episode.
- Chronologically, this is Erica Clark's final episode. Her appearance in #370 – #371: “Christmas Around the World” was recorded prior to this episode and should be considered as having occurred before it.
- See main article: List of The Chronicles of Narnia references
Jack Allen: Would you like to lead us in prayer, Eugene?
Eugene Meltsner: Delighted. Dearest Elohim: We know that you were with the army of Jehoshaphat in 2nd Chronicles 20: 1 and following, and when he prepared his army to battle the Ammonites, which were of a great multitude, you told them not to fear; and though the Hebrew is slightly ambiguous in a few of the verses in this passage, we know you tell us the same. And we remember this today when we battle the Ammonites of anxiety, the Jebusites of injustice, the Perizzites of pride and yea, the Syrians of sinfulness. Glorious Yahweh, we see in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians how he uses eschatological references as the basis for hope that determines the nature of daily life, and in a sense, we should do the same. And we ask these things in the name of our precious Redeemer and Savior, Jesu Christe, Emmanu-el, i.e. “God with us.” Amen.
Jack Allen: O-kayyyy... I guess that qualifies as a blessing.
Glenn Adams: Of course, there's no reason to be afraid of the earth blowing up!
Erica Clark: Before you go, would you like to try our little paperclip contest?
Mr. Lucas: Uh, your what?
Erica Clark: If you guess how many paperclips are in this jar, you can win a pizza party for your class.
Mr. Lucas: My class doesn't need any pizza.
Eugene Meltsner: I'm attempting to curb the temptation to take what I have for granted — and at the same time, to understand the plight of the underprivileged. Not everyone in the world has 3 meals a day as do you and I. Alas, most of the world eats just a few times a week!
Connie Kendall: Okay, well, who wants cheesecake?