In paraphrasing Richard Ellis, Pastor of Reunion Church (the Word FM 100.7), so often we as dads reflect the rules to our children that we believe God has of us. Pastor Ellis describes how, men especially, transfer their view of God’s expectations of them to their children. Children look to their parents and their Dad as a reflection of their Heavenly Father, God.
What a responsibility.
I have frequently screwed up because I do not always have a good view of how God thinks of me and what he expects from me. Focusing on achievement, rules and fear of failure has often driven me to distraction in my own life.
At times, I also lack direction in my own life and wander aimlessly when I forget that the emptiness within is only filled by Jesus. As I see my children exhibit the same behavior, I tend to overreact because their actions stir the disquiet of my own soul.
There is such a push in our Christian circles to push our kids to “be good” and “do right.” Obviously, as followers of Jesus, we are to identify with acts of righteousness and avoiding evil. But a focus on performance distracts from Jesus and His gospel of forgiveness of sins through his death, burial and resurrection. This is counter to our culture’s values.
Jesus spoke in his famous sermon that those who “blessed” are those who:
1. Are poor in Spirit
3. Are meek
4. Hunger and thirst for righteousness
5. Are merciful
6. Are pure in heart
7. Are peacemakers
8. Are persecuted because of righteousness
9. Are insulted, persecuted and falsely spoken evil of because of Jesus. (Mt. 5:3-11)
Jesus spoke against the religious who, in their own view of God, made up rules for humankind to follow to be “OK” with God. Because they did not see how God saw them, they needed more rules in order to be “OK”
When I say we are trying to make our children “be good”, I am talking about the rules they must follow in order be viewed as “OK”. Outside of the list that Jesus provides us, we can tend to tack on rules for our kids that are not on His list. That’s where we get in trouble. (I am not saying that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in His entire teaching is on how to act, or His rules for living…) Outside of the list that Jesus provides us, we can tend to tack on rules for our kids that are not on His list. In my effort to make good little children, I may actually teaching them to trust their own works, not Jesus. God is interested in our heart attitudes. As I struggle to work out my own salvation and relationship with God, I am bringing up children of my own, as my dad did.
I now have so much greater respect for how hard it was for my dad to try to reflect what “truth and justice” were to me.
I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
If I can only teach my children the overarching character of the love of God, perhaps I’ll make it as a father.