To say the mood was tense might be the understatement of the year.
Parents had gathered in the principal’s office. Their foster child had been accused of attacking another student with a coat hanger and was being suspended. The parents had been called in from work.
Parent to child: “Did you do this?”
Principal: “He’s lying. He was seen doing it. We have a witness.”
Parent: “Who is the witness?”
Principal: “A teacher.”
Parent: “May we talk to the teacher?”
Principal: “No. The teacher is busy”
Parent: “We’ll wait.”
The principal, with a look of disdain and exasperation (and obviously in an attempt to get rid of the parents) called for the teacher. The teacher arrived.
Parent: Did you see my son attack that student?”
Teacher: “No. I was told about it by another student.”
Parent: “What student? May we have a name?”
The teacher gave the name and the parents asked to question the student.
Principal. “That student is in class.”
Parent: “We’ll wait.”
Knowing he had a mess on his hands, the principal called in the student.
Parent: “Did you see [my child] hit someone with a coat hanger?
Teacher (embarrassed and with more than a little incredulity): You told me you saw him hit [student’s name]!
Student: No, I said I saw [another student’s name that was similar] use a coathanger as a weapon.
An embarrassed silence filled the room.
Principal to parent: Perhaps with all that’s happened you should take your son home for the day.
Parent: Absolutely not. He isn’t guilty of anything. If he misses the day, he will look guilty, feel like he’s being punished, get zero’s for the day and miss a whole day’s work. Plus, there is football practice after school and he will not be allowed to participate because he missed school today.
Principal: That is, of course, your choice. He can go back to class. Thank you for coming in and helping us work this out.
Parent to principal: You were going to suspend my son on the testimony of a teacher who didn’t witness the event and whose information was faulty. You owe my son an apology.
Principal to student: Sorry. Now, can we all get back to work?
Parent: I don’t think so.
Principal: I said I was sorry. What more do you want?
Parent: I want you to BE sorry.
Real sorrow is seen and heard in deed and voice. It sounds and looks different from sorrow that is expressed solely because one was caught in a crime. The difference may be difficult to describe, but we all know the difference when we experience it.
Real sorrow, the kind Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 7, is an imperatival precursor to repentance. And repentance is an imperatival precursor to salvation.