[Jesus] saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. - Mark 1:20 In the coming days I will begin to break down some of our more interesting parenting practices, but before we can do that we need to clarify the purpose for our children's lives and our lives. In this sense, Robin and I start with the end in mind. At least the end of our hands-on parenting time goes. One day Jesus will request our children's service. They will be asked to leave us in order to follow Him. I am not talking about saying a prayer, taking a public bath and living a moral life. I am talking about going to a place or to a people they would not have considered beforehand. I am talking about living a life of mission according to Scripture. Whether that is in Africa, the projects or the suburbs is up to Him and Him alone. But contrary to popular opinion, God is not concerned as much with their comfort and safety and He is with the worlds pains and sufferings.
Giving Our Children the American Dream? If Robin and I spend our entire parenting life ensuring our children's absolute safety, making sure they have the best of the best of everything, and serving their every whimsical need up to the point Jesus calls them; then how can we expect them to step into the dangerous Kingdom of serving Jesus in the future? The Kingdom of Jesus asks them to give up everything they have and lose themselves and forget their needs for the sake of everyone else? This is why the American Dream and the consumerism that supports it is an absolute curse to the gospel and Kingdom of Jesus Christ. If you don't start from the beginning when do you start?
Alan Hirsch has put it best,
“[W]e have sought to domesticate Jesus and make Him a much more manageable lowercase “l” lord that comfortably legitimates our lifestyles. Let’s be honest: for most Christians, Jesus has come to look and behave like a nice, regular, high-conformity, somewhat-morally upright/uptight churchgoer.”
Erwin McManus observes of Christian parents,
“I’ve seen far too many kids raised in Christian homes who are indifferent towards Jesus and often carry a great disdain for the church. Sometimes it’s the result of blatant hypocrisy, but other times it’s the result of nothing less than sheer monotony and boredom. We raise our children in the cocoon of a domesticated faith and wonder why they run as far as they can to find adventure.”
Our prayer is that our children run as far into the arms of Jesus Christ that they find themselves stuck in the midst of an amazing adventure that is filled with love resulting in risk and self-sacrifice. Our hope is that our children will not be afraid to take the risk in favor of safety, and that they won't seek some stupid form of adventure because they were never given an opportunity to do something dangerous at home.
Isn't this for later stages of life? Rather than conforming Jesus into our image and allowing that Jesus to justify our way of living, which includes the way we raise our children, Robin and I have said we will live according to the Way of Jesus and begin conforming our children to this Way from the beginning. We have chosen to start with the end of our hands-on parenting life in mind. I will break down what this means in the blogs to come. As I have said many times already, infants and babies are sponges. I believe they are some fo the most intelligent life forms in the universe. Why is it easier for a child to learn a new language than it is for an adult to do so? Infants and small children are picking up things and forming the personality traits that will impact their future development.
Today I will leave you with this difficult message from Jesus,
"Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one's own self!—can't be my disciple. Anyone who won't shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can't be my disciple." - Luke 14:25-27 (The Message)