• There will be more announcements on how we’re rebuilding community (and other things) in the wake of Covid, but we can get a jump on that with Men’s Ministry tomorrow (Sat.) morning at 8:00a. Breakfast provided. Our beloved Kurt Kreiger will be speaking to us. Officers: prayer for the congregation begins at 7:00a.
[Rabbit trail: For those still struggling with Romans 13 (v.2 “…whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed…”) and CPC’s decision to (mostly) obey the state regs regarding Covid, see the end of this note.]
• On to parenting. The goal of parenting is to raise kids who know they are the lifelong servants of God. All things being equal, obedience to you will translate to obedience to God. Think of Mary, most likely a teenager, and her response to the angel: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). She grew up in a home in which that response would have been the expectation.
• So last week we talked about a humility that starts with us and is passed on to our kids. For us as parents, we can take humility from the fact that we hold our kids to a standard (the law of God) that we ourselves do not keep. We need some emotionally intelligent system for teaching in that context. That system is shifting to a posture of coming alongside our kids as co-laborers (and failures) in Christ so that, as allies, we fight sin together. That isn’t an abdication of leadership, rather it’s a more honest and compelling way to lead kids who, at some level, already know the truth about us. In terms of efficacy, Christ could easily have dominated on earth through sheer power (“Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” Mt 26:53), which is the approach we sometimes take as parents (sheer power). Instead the Lord put himself in the hands of the Herodians and Romans who executed him. The power of the Kingdom is in this kind of counter-intuitive, unexpected humility. You want the power of godliness influencing your kids, not your own force of will.
• The key this week: the best thing we can do for our kids is to love God more than them, and for that to be clear and demonstrated in how we live. Parents who love their kids tend to build life around them. This is exactly upside down. What our kids need from us is a household built around God. They need to see us making decisions in which God is first regardless of costs, with some of those costs being borne by our children (sacrifices they may have to make, service they need to render, opportunities laid aside because they serve God not themselves).
• The Gen 22:2 “[God] said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Kids are not first in your life. It’s true this is a Christological text, foreshadowing the Sacrificial Lamb. It’s also true that God himself prevented the command from being obeyed. But it was a real command. What it means is that for the world to make sense, God must have the primacy in the hearts of his people, specifically in relation to things that threaten to take over primacy and passion in our lives — things like kids. All things being equal, our kids will never understand themselves as humble servants of God until they see their parents serving God above all potential idols — kids included.
• We made a lot of mistakes in raising our kids. I could offer details but suffice it to say we are still reckoning with some of those mistakes. It’s a painful process because our love for them is beyond description and the last thing we wanted to do was cause hurt or damage. Still, I do believe (and I think they would agree) that God was always first in my heart and Lisa’s. I’m not only thankful that we were able to give them that, but I can see it now in their own lives. They tend to consistently make decisions that reveal God as primary and other things secondary. They’re not perfect. They will go on to make their own mistakes with their own kids. But if the legacy we’ve passed on is the worship of God in all things, that’s a success.
• Okay, Romans 13. I’m no fan (at all) of the government telling churches how to worship. But do this: pull up the “Google Scholar“ search engine and type in “Romans 13 Christian Ethics.” What you’ll see is there is a long history of deep, difficult, intense international interaction with that text. It’s generally understood that the only way around it is if a government fails to meet biblical standards for authority. Here’s the rub: the governmental system of the United States is one of the best, and most reasonable, in the history of the world. Those who want to dismiss Romans 13 need a biblical argument. I’ve had to make a decision to submit to the word of God, not my emotional impulse to tell the government to get lost.