Saturday, June 19, 2010

Before Whom Are We Parenting?

New Christian parents are on display, especially in churches. Whether or not it is true, they often feel as though they are being evaluated based on the behavior of their children. It is tempting to try to force children to behave so that other Christians think that our family is "Christ-like."

I had a funny thought the other day. Imagine if we evaluated God and His parenting skills based on the behavior of His children? How many Christians are there who are blatantly living in sin, or just living life as though God doesn't exist....while God patiently and graciously deals with them, inviting them back into His arms, the Prodigal's Father? He is so fixed in His character, so confident in His authority, that He allows us, His children, to be poor reflectors of Him sometimes...because He is patiently wooing us, training us, knocking on our door, seeking to dine with us. He is SLOW to anger, ABOUNDING in lovingkindness towards us.

What if we evaluated God's parenting skills by the way Jesus' disciples acted? They were often so foolish and immature! How many times have I found comfort in the fact that Jesus' disciples behaved the way I so often do, and yet Jesus was patient and gracious with them? If Jesus had treated His disciples the way most Christian parents treat their kids, here are some things he would have said to them: "You guys are bringing shame to my name! You need to start acting like you're more mature! Why can't you guys just grow up?! Shame on you!" Here is what He would have done when they acted foolishly and sinfully and faithlessly: "I am going to have to punish you for that! You deserve it! I am doing it for your own good, so that you will act better in the future!" Did he do this ever, even once??? What did Jesus ask of His disciples? Did He ask good behavior of them? NO! He said simply, "Follow Me." He called them to Himself, to learn from Him. He taught them, taught them, taught them, over and over. And He loved them. When He returned to heaven, He promised them that He would send the Holy Spirit, who would guide them and be with them all the time.

We parent before God, not before people. This realization has been so good for me! Immature behavior does not scare me or embarrass me...I expect it. I welcome it as a teaching opportunity, and more than that, as an opportunity to extend unconditional love and grace, an opportunity to walk by the Spirit, to draw the patience, gentleness, kindness, self-control that I need from my Father. I know that my little man will not be able to actually "do good" until the Holy Spirit lives in him and works through him, and furthermore, he is a child who does not understand things like an adult can. My husband and I talk often about how much we are just enjoying our son as he grows up because we are not worried about his behavior, and we have chosen to let go of what others may think because we love our son, and we want him to readily accept Christ and to see that this Christ, who died for his sins, doesn't require anything from him but a life walk of dependence and trust.


  1. Awesome post. This is what has been so heavy on my heart lately. Thank you for putting into words much better than I ever could have ;o)

  2. Thank you! What I have been amazed at is how a different parenting perspective, one of grace, helps me understand what God wants from me: a relationship, so much better!

  3. very edifying thoughts. i love thoughts like these that don't waste my time with "how i parent" specifics that try to make every mom and family the same. This truly blesses me because it helps me think on Christ and not myself or other mommies.


    Thanks again for your eloquence and skill at communicating this very important understanding and perspective.