Ever been to a seeker church? You know, one that is all about the experience and a little short on biblical Truth. One that is all about God’s love but doesn’t mention why we need God’s love so much (we are a pretty sin soaked, messed up bunch.) I am talking about churches that so badly want to fill the seats that they put God in a box and only talk about the “appealing” or politically correct aspects of God. I have been to one or two of these places in the past. I left feeling a little icky-kind of like I had been part of a superficial game show event-“Let’s see what’s behind door number three…Jesus! And He loves you! Come on down! We will be back with more surprises after the break.” Or maybe with more of a hippie vibe: “Jesus totally loves you, man. Raaaad. Church feels so good. Can you feel the love?” Anyway, these churches only touch on part of the truth, but tend to leave out the parts of the Bible or the Christian walk or even the character of God Himself that they think won’t win people over. In a sense they are putting the responsibility of evangelizing all on themselves and leaving God out of it. Their approach basically says that “if people really knew that God hated sin, or that God expected people to love and give sacrificially and generously, or that in this life we continue to have struggles, they would not be so into this whole song and dance.”
In my very consuming task of parenting my children and reaching their hearts I have started asking myself: am I a “seeker parent”? Do I hide from my kids the parts of God that I don’t think they will like? Do I try to make God’s word fit into my own parenting agenda? Do I put too much into my own skills or words or efforts in evangelizing my kids?
When explaining why certain behavior is right and wrong I try to tie it back to scripture and biblical truth/morality. I want them to know why. I want everything to come back to a heart issue so they see their need for God and why grace is such an awesome thing. Sometimes I think to myself, “am I making God sound like a big bossy guy with a long list of rules?” Because there are some days where I feel as though I am saying over and over again things like “God wants us to obey our parents.” “God teaches us to be honest because He is truth and we can always believe what He says.” “The Bible tells us to love one another and be kind to each other.” “The Bible tells us that love is not rude.” Sound like a broken record much?! It is times like this where I wonder if my kids will still embrace God if they hear about the standards He has. Does this make God sound unappealing? I tend to get a little “seeker church-ish”. Should I water the Bible down a little? Should I try to cram God into a box that my kids can play with when they want to and ignore Him in the corner when they don’t like what He has to say? Now don’t get me wrong, God’s idea of right and wrong and how we should live is not at all the only thing I share about God with my kids. We always talk about why. We talk about that out of God’s love He gave us right and wrong . We also talk a lot about how God made everything (so much so that the other day Braxton saw a “digga” truck and said “Spring is mine favorite season pecause der are diggas and dump twucks everywhere. God made wots of twucks.”) We talk about being thankful for what God has blessed us with. We talk about that God comforts us when we are scared, that God made our bodies to heal themselves from scrapes and bruises, that God loves to hear us pray and sing to Him. We talk about that God made us special and loves us just the way we are. We talk about loving others because God has loved us so much. We talk about that sometimes up in Heaven God is laughing at the the funny things we say and do. We talk about how God forgives us when we mess up. As I try myself to embrace the gracious and gentle nature of God more-or rather let Him embrace me more- I am trying to give my kids more and more tastes of God’s grace and love for them by structured teaching and also my example in front of them.
I do think it is so very very important to stay far from legalism. I don’t want my children to honor God with their lips but their hearts are far from Him. (Matthew 15:8.) I don’t want them to view my teaching, and certainly not God’s teaching, as a nagging list of dos and don’ts. I want to leave room for grace, but at the same time not compromise the standards. It is a tricky tight rope for me to walk. And sometimes I wonder if, for fear of my kids misinterpreting God, for fear of them rejecting God, I take it upon myself to censor Him. When I write it I can see the blasphemy, and the futility,…oh and also how this would definitely screw up their perception of God much more.
I need to take the pressure of myself to save their souls and win them to Christ. The pressure never meant to be mine anyway. When we are driving and Hayleigh asks a question about Heaven and Hell and I am trying to shout the answer over a screaming baby, I don’t need to be discouraged when she loses focus because we passed by a pink garbage can on the curb. My words won’t win them to Christ-Christ will. He may use me, and that would be my greatest honor. But ultimately it is God who wins people to Himself. Why then would I not paint a complete picture of who God is, who we are, what reality is? Why would I hinder them from knowing the truth, knowing God as He really is? Because I think I know better? Because I am scared? Because I obviously don’t trust enough?
What I really need to do is boldly present who God really is (in a way they can comprehend) without diluting or molding the truth. I need to not leave pieces of God out because I think they won’t accept a God who expects obedience. They have a mommy who expects obedience and they need to know why: because God teaches it. It is as if I would rather be “the bad guy” then put it on God. So in essence I would be deceiving my kids and also confusing and frustrating them, by not giving them the basis for the standards we hold in our home. I need to share with them God in His entirety-his grace, his justice, his hatred of sin, his standards of right and wrong, his patience, his provision, his sovereignty, his wisdom, his goodness, his bigness. When people really know how big God is and how puny and yucky we are, God’s love really is miraculous and inviting. (Isn’t it true anyway that the Gospel is simple enough for a child to understand with “a childlike faith” and it’s adults who make it all convoluted and more to it than there really is anyway?)
Ultimately it is not about me, what I say, what I reveal behind door number three. It is about God. I can’t sugar coat Him. I can’t edit Him for my kids. It is not my job. It never was. My job is to give them the truth whether they accept it or not, to model the love and the truth, to pray for them, and let the chips fall where they will. It might sound harsh but my kids need to take God as He is or leave Him. They need to accept the complete truth of the Gospel and who God is, accept reality or reject it. But accepting an incomplete version of God is not an option to leave open to them. This is a bit scary, but honestly it is so freeing. It doesn’t depend on me or a magic formula of words said at just the right time. It is in God’s hands, his capable, gentle, powerful hands. God has certainly won more people over in this world than I have. He is God after all, and I am trusting that He will help me get out of the way so He will win my kids’ hearts for Him.
“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:14-16