A Good, Good Father

spring2Hello friends,

Early this summer, I came across THIS lovely Pin on Pinterest.img_1766

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So the basic message is, “Hey Parents! It’s ALL your fault!”  Your kids are messed up because you are a crummy parent.  If you have any hope of them growing up to be decent human beings, you better get it right. (And figure it out fast because you have less than 18 years until they move out.) I don’t know about you but this leaves me feeling a lot of pressure and not a lot of hope.

Okay, but whose fault is it that I am not physically affectionate enough?  Whose fault is it that I overreacted to mistakes in the past?  That time I disciplined him in front of his brother, whose fault was that? (Oh yeah, did you catch that up there? I’m not supposed to discipline my kid in front of his siblings.) Never mind the fact that he’s being disciplined because he slapped his brother in the back…  You know whose fault it is that I keep getting it wrong as a parent? OBVIOUSLY, it’s MY parents’ fault- they conditioned me this way. But how can you blame them? I mean, it must be THEIR parents’ fault.

Apparently if we keep that pattern up, we have generations of parents who just could never get it right! Lucky for us, we have all these studies and information now to help us. I’m sure in the next few years we will figure it out and stop messing up our kids. Soon, with the right knowledge, information, and tools, we will become perfect parents, and we will have perfect children.

Or not.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have experienced the horror when my children display awful behavior, which they just so happened to learn from me. You know, they get annoyed at a sibling and treat the sibling the exact same way you treated them last week when they were bothering you. It might be the single most terrifying parenting experiences. So, I’m not necessarily saying that my kids’ behavior has nothing to do with me. I am all for information, knowledge, and tools, but has anyone implemented any of those things perfectly? And I’m not sure about you, but even when I do execute the tools from parenting books “perfectly” that doesn’t always mean my kid responds the way that the parenting book says he will.

The problem with tools and stuff is that they focus on behavior, whether the parent’s or the child’s. Even if the parenting advice is to focus on connecting with the child and not on their behavior, you have just moved from trying to get them to act perfectly to trying to manage the situation perfectly yourself.  Sounds like a pretty daunting task to me because if I get it wrong, it’s all my fault.

Fortunately, the Bible actually does provide an answer to this awful conundrum.  Hang with me – if you don’t like the Bible, you should at least know the teachings that you don’t like. I’m not trying to make you like it or accept it, just going to teach what it teaches. The Biblical answer is, we need a perfect parent.

First. The Bible supports the concept that all of this imperfection is passed down through generations.  The Bible calls it sin, a word that we all hate, but the word merely means that we have gotten things out of order (disorder all of the sudden has an interesting meaning) and missed the mark of perfection.

The Bible says that from one man, every nation of man was made (Acts 17:26).  In other words, we have all physically descended from the same first man.  That man fell short of perfection. When he fell short, it meant that he would be separated from God (his source of life) and that everyone who descended from him would also inherit his imperfection and a life without God (Romans 5:12,18-19). Oh, and now instead of living forever, we will all die (Rom 3:23, 5:12). It’s not so much that this is not fair as it is just the natural consequence of not being perfect. Anyone who has ever thought, “I’m messing my kids up!” knows this is true.

So now we need a perfect parent – to put things back in order and to give us a new inheritance. What does the Bible say about this?

Ever wonder why it matters that Jesus was born of a virgin (Luke 1:18-25, Galatians 4:4)? It matters because if he had descended completely from the first man (called Adam), he would have inherited sin in the flesh, just like we did. No human can ransom another before God(Psalm 49:7)- we need GOD to do that (Psalm 49:15). Jesus is called the Son of God (John 1:14,34). He descended from a good and perfect Father, but somehow God made it possible for him to be fully man as well (Galatians 4:4).  Only through him, the Son of God and Son of Man, do we have any hope of escaping our own inheritance of sin and imperfection (Acts 4:12). But how?

The Bible teaches that Jesus made the great exchange – he lived out his life perfectly according to God’s standards (1 Peter 2:22), although he ticked a lot of people off, and when he died on the cross, he became our sin, so that in him we might become righteous in God’s eyes (2 Corinthians 5:21). When we trust in this, the Bible says that we are given the right to become children of God, born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13). Then he gives us a new, perfect, spiritual inheritance (1 Peter 1:4). We’ve been adopted into God’s family (Ephesians 1:5). We now have a perfect father (Matthew 5:48). And last but not least, we experience “regeneration,” which literally means we get new genes, we are re-created in Christ (Titus 3:5). This is what we ALL need. Science and psychology hint at it, and the Bible spoke of it long ago.

Does this mean that all of the sudden we are acting perfect all the time? I wish, but no.  But it means that on the basis of what Jesus has done for us, our relationship and connection with God has been restored. It was severed when Adam sinned, but we are new creations, reconciled in Christ (2 Cor 5:18).  And THAT is the point.  It’s our nearness to God that begins to change everything.

To sum it up: Jesus made a way for us to be near to God (1 Peter 3:18). Without his life, death and resurrection, this would not be possible because the sin we inherited from the first man keeps us from God.  But once we experience the nearness of God in Christ (our source of life, Colossians 3:4), we realize that there is nothing better, and we want to stay near him all the time (Psalm 63:3, Psalm 84:10).  We begin to want HIM and crave HIM and that changes the way we live and relate to our children. He’s the piece that causes all the other pieces to get back in order (Acts 4:11).

“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:39)

This means that when I miss the mark in my parenting, that it’s actually really just a symptom a poor connection with God.  I don’t need tools and techniques, I need to be near to God.  The promise to those who trust in Christ for their perfection is that even when WE break the connection with him (by yelling at our kids or gossiping or lying or something) that HE will never again break connection with us because it’s not based on our perfection, but on Christ’s.  And when we realize that his love for us really is THAT strong and deep and wide and high (Ephesians 3:18), then it really breaks our hearts when we do things that hurt others and hurt Him (2 Cor 7:10).

You can say malarkey, but I won’t take it personally cause this is not my teaching. I am just sharing what the Bible teaches. It actually does have answers for us.

Much love,

Leah

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Leah

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