In my last post, the point I was trying to make is that we’re not writing a parenting blog that’s working on the premise of making you look like Jesus. In fact, my point was that we all (whether Christian or not) try really hard to reach whatever unattainable standard we set, and we fail hard all the time.
Look, folks, on this blog we’re going to spend a ton of time talking about how we do this whole parenting thing. And we hope it’ll be helpful for you. But if you only see this blog as the 65,985th “How to Be a Better Parent” blog (I googled to see how many other better parent blogs there were to get an exact number—ok, no I didn’t) , then you’re not really hearing us. I have no clue if this blog will make you a better parent. I don’t know if with each passing day we’re becoming better parents. In fact, as more time goes by, the more clearly I can see just how much I stink as a dad. And if you’re looking for a place to make you a better parent, well, this isn’t it.
This is what we offer: a bigger Jesus for the ever-failing parent. We’re not proclaiming a Jesus that you just believe in so that he’ll take all your troubles away and make life easy. We’re not proclaiming a Jesus that takes you “just as you are”, but then will pistol-whip you if you don’t immediately stop being just as you are. We’re not proclaiming a Jesus who is a fairy godmother that waves a wand and makes your mundane life suddenly magical.
We’re proclaiming a Jesus who did everything for you already. And we’re proclaiming that he saved you because he loves you, not because he wants to be your new spiritual trainer that keeps you on the treadmill of trying to be better and better all the time. Does believing in Jesus bring about change in the believer? Definitely. But thinking that way misses the point: Jesus didn’t save us so that we could become self-obsessed with personal improvement. He saved us to give us the joy of seeing him more clearly while more constantly forgetting about ourselves. As Tullian Tchividjian says,
The truth is, we spend way too much time thinking about ourselves, and we justify this spiritualized navel-gazing by reasoning that this is what God wants us to be doing. I’ve said this before but let me say it again: there is nothing in the gospel or about the gospel that encourages me to focus on me. Nothing! It’s never honoring to God when we take our eyes off of Christ “the author and finisher of our faith” and center our eyes on ourselves. Never!
Will focusing on ourselves and our parenting and our methods and our hearts and our motives really make us better parents? If anything, it’ll just make us more self-absorbed so that we become the center of the universe. Is the only other alternative to focus all our energy on our kids and their hearts and their motives and their behaviors? If so, then we’ve just made our kids the center of the universe and taught them to believe that’s what they are, too. No, the third and only way to proceed is to focus on Jesus and his perfection and his love and his death and his resurrection—not as an example of what we should be, but as our substitute who has already accomplished everything on our behalf.
So what does that mean for us? We don’t have to be afraid that we’re going to screw up so much that God will reject us. He’s already accepted us in Jesus. We don’t have to fear that we’re going to destroy our kids. God has saved us despite (fill in the blank) from our past. We don’t have to worry about whether we’re doing all the right things or not. Our God is with us through Jesus and he will not depart from us.
The tagline for the blog is “Raising Kids in Jesus”, which means (at least) three things.
- We’re raising kids by faith in Jesus, humbled and grateful that he was perfect and because of that, we’re released from the pressure of having to be perfect.
- We’re raising kids by abiding in Jesus (think John 15 and Romans 6). This isn’t some cutesy “I’ve got Jesus in my heart so I’m happy all the day” concept, but the very real truth that by faith we are truly in Jesus, both in his death and resurrection. And by virtue of that, his Holy Spirit lives in us. So, we don’t parent like we’re all alone, but with assurance that God dwells in us and works through us by faith.
- We’re raising kids to live in Jesus themselves. I take seriously the promise that forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit isn’t just for parents, but also for “your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39). I don’t know if God will ultimately call my kids to faith—but neither can I force that to happen. But I believe God is good. And I trust him. He saved me. I didn’t deserve it. And I look at my kids and know they don’t deserve it either. So, I believe that the same promise that has saved me can save them, too. And I tell them that promise: All. The. Time.
Do we think there are better and worse ways to live out these realities? Sure we do. Otherwise, our blog would run about ten posts and then we’d be done. But we’re going to smear Jesus paint all over every practical picture we craft. Because when we parent apart from faith in Jesus, we’re parenting in ourselves and denying the God who saved us. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” And the only way to be pleasing to God is by faith in Jesus. Anything else is our feeble attempt to say, “God, look how great I am!” which is a lot like an abusive husband saying, “Hey, I only beat my wife once last week!”
And my favorite part about the blog (if you haven’t picked this up already) is that we’re truly just as messed up as you. Maybe more so—God knows. And we’re in the midst of this, trying to find our way and inviting you along while we figure it out. We’ve got things to learn, too. Please comment liberally to teach us as you see fit. And together we’re going to strive to see Jesus more clearly in the pursuit of raising our kids to see the same thing. May God bless us in that.