One of my biggest fears as a parent is that my kids will reject Christianity altogether. We’re a family that doesn’t have a lot of history with the faith, and my wife and I are flying blind on almost everything. What is it like to grow up with Christian parents? No idea. We didn’t do that. What is it like to be Christian parents? We’re making it up as we go along.
Basically I don’t want to do something that’s going to completely mess them up. (Which I know is already too late, because every parent messes up their kids to one degree or another.)
In our early years as parents, we tried to follow a program that claimed to be help parents raise their kids, basically, God’s way. But God’s way in that instance seemed to be a whole lot of Law, and not a lot of gospel. Children will obey the first time. They will do what they’re told. Because if they don’t, they’ll be lost. For us, the approach didn’t make us more godly parents. It did, however, feed into our insecurities and anxieties—and into our larger problem of our natural tendency to wander away from the One we love (and too often had one of us losing our cool because the kids did not obey the first time we asked them to do something). We were getting so wrapped up in trying to be a good Christian parent that we were losing our focus on the gospel.
Remembering that particular season, I can’t help but think of what Paul wrote to the Galatians: “But now, since you know God, or rather have become known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elements?” (Galatians 4:9)
That, in a nutshell, summarized our problem: we were turning our eyes from what mattered most. We were parenting from a legalistic view, instead of parenting out of the gospel. Our parenting was based on the wrong foundation. We needed to point our kids—and point ourselves—to “the Rock;” to pay attention, to remember, and to tell our children about all that He has done day in and day out (Deut. 32:1-9).
I needed this reminder yesterday. I need this today. I’m going to need this tomorrow. Everyday, I need to confront myself of this truth, because it’s so easy to wander away from it into something else. To lose sight of what really matters. But God is good. He is kind. And whenever I am out of step, I am reminded that the only hope that I have, and my kids have, is in “the man [God] has appointed;” Jesus, the man He raised from the dead (Acts 17:31). And that’s all any of us need.
Written by Aaron Armstrong