I’ve been aware for some time now, the contradiction that clouds many homes when it comes to parenting and salvation. Raised in a very legalistic and conservative Christian environment as a kid, I was confused and angered by the contradictions in our Christian beliefs as they related to faith and family. So confused and so angry in fact I split the church at 19 and didn’t look back for another 12 years.
Something inside of me knew this couldn’t be “right”. I mean, if salvation was by grace then would my faith only become real by obedience and achievement or was there some room for me and my own shortcomings in the whole equation of life and death and salvation ? The bible seemed to say “Yes”, but the parents and adults I lived around and under seemed exhausted and insane in their determination to make their kids be obedient.
In the end, the kids I grew up with… all coped as only we could. We faked it. We learned the scripture verses and attended every bible study, worship service and evangelistic outreach that a “good” Christian should. Over time, we (my generation) learned to simply pretend our way through adolescence and reflect the images and actions that our parents seemed so desperate we should be.
As a child…I was developing an understanding of God and Faith that put all of the pressure on me. It was my duty to obey or be left behind, or fried or scorned for not being “faithful enough” to earn God’s favor. I was told one thing… “Grace”, and then instructed in the practice of something else… the “Law”. I couldn’t unravel all of the details, but I knew deep down… I sensed if that was the way Christianity was supposed to work, it couldn’t be true.
It wasn’t until I listened into a Focus on the Family Broadcast about parenting, that the past experiences I had as a kid… sort of “clicked” into place for me. An author by the name of Dr. Tim Kimmel has written numerous books about Grace and Love and kids, check them out including… ‘Little House on the Freeway” and “Grace based Parenting” in which he centers in on the issues facing many of todays parents.
The book reveals the complex contradictions of Christian life as we allow our homes to gradually become controlled by our own insecurities, fears and iron discipline. Dr. Kimmel uncovers the causes and issues of our busyness, achievement oriented faith, grace vs. law, love vs. fear behaviors..etc… He clearly helps parents un-wind the knots in their own lives and then in their kids. It’s excellent and I hope you take the time to read and review and apply as needed to your own lives.
In the end, we want to show our kids Jesus by our lives. Not force them to obey in some empty attempt to please us. Our next generation of kids are struggling in ways we have never dreamed of. They are leaving the church in droves… 88-90% leave at age eighteen never to return. I believe one of key areas of failure as families of faith is related to this concept of Grace and relationship vs. Law and rules.
Don’t misunderstand, Grace is not a license to let them do whatever, whenever, but it is a lifestyle that parents need to embrace aggressively if they want to point their own to Jesus. After all, that’s how we found Him… isn’t it ? My challenge to you parents… please listen to this broadcast, check it out… see if this impacts you as much as it did me. I know many have strong opinions on these issues, but if you are not a second or third generation Christian, its hard to explain.
Peace out, as you like me… seek to keep your families in between the lines and on the road of life.