Colossians 3:20-21 NRSV
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is your acceptable duty in the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart.
All Scripture memory systems for children naturally begin with Colossians 3:20. It is no surprise that Paul would exhort children to, “obey your parents in everything.” Of course children must obey their parents.
The stunner is Paul’s word to fathers. “Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart” (v. 21). In the first century, no one tended to care too much about children becoming discouraged by their fathers.
Why did Paul care about children? Because Jesus cared about children. Jesus cares about children because God cares about children.
Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. (Matt. 19:13-15)
Children form their primary image of who God is through the way they are parented. If a parent is harsh, they will naturally, albeit unknowingly, assume God is harsh. If a parent is filled with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, the children will unknowingly assume this is what God is like. This makes parenting all at once the most practical and the most theological task in the world.
Here’s the bottom line for those of us who are presently parenting children: we can fool a lot of people a lot of the time, but we can’t fool our children. Whatever is in me will come out in my parenting. The surest way for my children to have a true sense of who the real God is and what the real God is like is for me to be a real Christian. Hence, my chief responsibility as a Christian parent is to be a real Christian. And the only way I can be a real Christian is to be filled with all the fullness of God.
Domino #3|20 is Home Training.
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, in whom all your fullness is pleased to dwell. Thank you that we have been given fullness in him. Come, Holy Spirit, and awaken me to the reality of being filled with all the fullness of God, especially for the sake of all of our children. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
- Have you ever thought of parenting as a theological task? How did the way you were parented impact your image of God?
- Have you given consideration to what it means to parent “in Christ?”
- Remember: the secret is not in your parenting skills; the secret is “Christ in you.” This means grace-based parenting—grace for our children and also grace for ourselves when we stumble. How about that?
For the Awakening,