Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Jesus The Model...Parent?

by john alan turner

Jesus was many things when he lived here on earth: sinless Son of God, atoning sacrifice, masterful teacher and storyteller, perfectly righteous model with no hint of self-righteousness.

It is baffling to me why the Christian community has largely failed to apply the teachings and example of Jesus in the realm of parenting, claiming that since he was not a parent, he has nothing relevant to say about it. It is even more ironic since Jesus never ran a business, never led a church and never got married -- yet we apply his teachings in these areas on a regular basis. Maybe we should ask ourselves how Jesus might raise our children. And there is one area that is particularly worthy of our attention.

On the night before he was betrayed, in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells Peter: "Satan is going to tempt you like you've never been tempted before. But I'm praying for you. After it's all over, remember to come back and strengthen everyone else, okay?"

It's interesting that Jesus doesn't try to fix Peter, doesn't give advice or a lecture. Neither does he try to protect Peter from the trail he's about to face. He just prays for Peter. And he tells him so.

At his moment of deepest concern, Jesus decides that the single most powerful thing he can do to benefit this person whom he loves deeply is to pray. I must admit that very often I want to control my kids or manipulate their circumstances. I even ask God to help me in this endeavor. But God is too smart for that. He's designed kids so that -- even at a very young age -- they defy my attampts to control and manipulate them. Sometimes it looks like my tactics are working -- they often produce behavior modification...in the short ter. But in the long run, most kids resent and rebel against micro-management.

That's incredibly frustrating for me, but it's liberating for everyone in the long run. If I was allowed too much control over my children, I'd end up doing unspeakable damage to them, stunting their development and hindering them from cultivating healthy relationships with God, others and themselves. God is wise; and he has established patterns of growth and maturity that we ignore at our own peril.

Imagine this: Jesus -- second member of the Trinity -- only begotten Son of God -- Alpha and Omega -- the One through whom and for whom all things were created and hold together. And yet he demonstrated his power most completely in his ability to let go and launch his disciples out into the world without micromanaging their every decision and action!

That's the kind of parent I want to be.


Blogger DJG said...

Great thoughts. Some of the things that I would have LOVED to have kept from my children have been the thing that brought them closest to God and his Kingdom....What do I know??

5/24/2005 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Keith Brenton said...

I wonder how much of the agony He felt in the garden was the prospect of cutting the apron strings ... wondering if the eleven remaining were sufficiently prepared; up to the task; receptive to His Spirit ...

5/25/2005 07:18:00 AM  

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