Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Vacation Day 3: Something I'll Never Teach My Kids About Jesus

(For the next TWO WEEKS I'll be enjoying vacation with my family, so I will not be posting anything new here on the blog. Instead I am going to re-post the top 10, most viewed blogs from the past. Hope you (re)enjoy them, and maybe some new discussions will emerge.)

Original Post: 1/20/11

The other day day I was putting my 3 year old daughter, Eisley, down for a nap. She had been very obedient that day and had even earned herself an Oreo cookie date with her daddy after her nap (As if that's hard to do when Mommy's not home.)

Before nap we were talking about how obedient she had been and I almost naturally said, "You know Jesus is very proud of you when you obey." It seemed such a natural, appropriate, right response to her obedience and you may be thinking, "what's the big deal?... Sounds right to me too."

So why do i not ever want to say these kind of words to my children?

Because I don't wont my kids living with any kind of idea that Jesus loves them more or is more proud of them when the are good, because that means he loves them less or is not proud of them when they mess up.

You may disagree, but I, for one, still battle this kind of thinking in my own life. I can't help but think that sometimes God is angry with me when I screw up, and that feeling sucks and can consume you. (Note: I should say this idea was taught to me in the christian school and church I attended, and not by my parents... My parents are one reason i still love Jesus.)

It's already hard enough "accepting that we are accepted" by God.

I want to teach my children that God loves them. He loves them when they obey and he loves them when they are at their worst.

I did ask Eisley if she knew of anyone else who was also very obedient... She answered, "Jesus". See, I want to teach my children to be like Jesus, not fear him... eisley and I have read a lot about Jesus and how loving and compassionate he is. So it doesn't make since to me to also treat Jesus as a threat or a weapon or use him as some sort of fear tactic with my children. They will probably experience that kind of garbage enough as it is growing up.


JustinGaynor said...

Great post....I'm reading a lot of Bonhoeffer right now and it reminded me of this....

"God loves human beings. God loves the world. Not an ideal human, but human beings as they are; not an ideal world, but the real world. What we find repulsive in their opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility, namely, real human beings, the real world, this is for God the ground of unfathomable love."

aPearantly sew said...

Just a thought...we as parents tell our children that we are proud of them when they are good, when they are obedient, when they are kind to others. How is that any different? Living a life according to his commands IS pleasing to the Lord. Why not tell them so?

JustinGaynor said...

Good thought Alison...we know that without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists ...but even the demons believe that...we also know that he rewards those who earnestly seek him in the ways that bring Him joy and not heartache and grief.

Jkub said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jkub said...

1. I am physically present to show my children that I love them even when they aren't at their best. Jesus isn't... Also, as much as I love them, my love is in some ways flawed...

2. Though it may not be a false statement, i would still want to be careful how I use those terms. Because while affirming a positive I could also be implanting the negative. (what happens when I dont obey? Is Jesus angry?)

I think our children will have an easy enough time doubting Gods unconditional love for them. I don't want to be the one to insight limits.

Also, it's always tempting to use Jesus as merely a method or leverage to get our kids to obey or do good.

JustinGaynor said...

A couple thoughts

1)If we cannot love someone unconditionally while not affirming their poor choices and attitudes and behaviors...then we do not love them unconditionally. We love them with the condition of our own ignorance at the cost of their upbuilding. 'grace at a low cost, is in the last resort simply a new law, which brings neither help nor freedom'

2)Human love also falls short of God's love in that it omits the limits truth requires. Ever since the creation poems we see God bringing His glad, wise order out of chaos. Setting boundaries and tremendous freedom from the suffering and death that is found in chaos because of those boundaries.

3) If our children doubt the unconditional love of God...then we have omitted or downgraded the radical event of the cross from our teaching...and we ought to seek it again for ourselves, perhaps with them and become again like children ourselves.

Book reco:

Jkub said...

I was referring to the limits of Gods love for us... Not laws and boundaries and order of creation.

As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better? -Matthew 7

JustinGaynor said...

I'm sorry. What I was drawing attention to with regard to boundaries and order of creation is a metaphor for our relationship to Him, a relationship that is in good healthy order as opposed to one that is chaotic and painful. It is the Spirit of them I was referring to.

The issue isn't that God gave us a bad gift (Matt 7), the issue is what we do with that gift once we have it. In the beginning, God gave us the whole of creation and desired for us to fill it, not just with our physical bodies,but with the knowledge and presence of Him, since He was fully with us. Then look what we did with it. It would place limits on God's love if he did not offer correctives and for the heart that yearns for Him the corrective is withdrawal, a hiding of His face when we have engaged in destructive, counterproductive behavior. It's not that his love has ceased, but that it is calling to us, come follow me.

GailNHB said...

Jacob, I am grateful that you share your parenting ideas and decisions with us. I am also grateful for the freedom we each have in sharing our understanding of God's love and grace with our children. There are certainly things I don't ever say to my kids about Jesus - or if I do say them, I go back and apologize and let them know that this is all an issue of my (mis)understanding and (mis)interpretation of God's Word. I assure them that I don't have it all right; they don't have it all right; in fact, no one has it all right. We are all doing the best we can. And God, who has it all right, promises to reveal Godself to us when we seek God first and ask for wisdom.

The thing I am most grateful and glad about is that God is way more loving and gracious and merciful and forgiving and just and pure than anything I have ever imagined or tried to express in these small and inadequate words at my disposal. And God has a plan for each of our children and will overcome all of our mistakes, misreading, and misunderstandings with regard to how we explain or teach God's Word.

Again, thanks for your willingness to be vulnerable and truthful here on your blog. Keep on sharing your insights. I appreciate them greatly.