If there is anything I want for both you the reader and for myself, it’s that we give up on the idea that we can save our kids through teaching them to be good. Both our salvation and theirs depends upon the outrageous grace of God alone, in Christ alone, through the Holy Spirit alone. Our job is to constantly and in every way possible point our children to the gospel. When we do this we practically insist that rules don’t save, Jesus does. I also want to remind all of us that there’s nothing wrong with teaching our children that they should obey their parents (Eph 6:1-3; Col 3:20). Obedience is a vital part of discipleship no matter how old we are, but again let me stress, was must not confuse doing what is good with giving our hearts to Christ for our eternal salvation. I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than a child doing what is right because they love the Father as opposed to doing what is right out of legalistic obligation. When we approach the throne of grace and become increasingly aware of how much God loves us in spite of our egregious sin, our hearts a refreshed and minds renewed. It is here that our lives change onto the glory of God.
So feel free to have boundaries and rules for your kids, that’s responsible parenting. And while you enforce those boundaries and rules, pray “viciously” that as they realize they are “prone to wander and prone to leave the God they love,” that they would also find their rescue in the Good News of Jesus.
I’m not naive, this grace-based, gospel-centered parenting can feel dangerous. We may have the sense that grace is good, but it needs to be kept in check. Which is funny, because I’m really really really glad that Jesus didn’t keep his grace in check! When you begin to feel this way remember, your children ultimately belong to God, they are temporarily on loan to you. Parenting is messy stuff and we try to tidy it up with taking control, or we completely neglect our responsibility thinking that either our kids will figure it out on their own, or someone else will get through to them. Let’s not kid ourselves on either end of the spectrum. Your children will make bad choices and break rules no matter what you do…plain and simple. In the end it’s about whether they find their value in following rules or in the unconditional love of God. I’m quite sure that God’s love will win in the end, we just have to take the long view on parenting and not get caught up in the day-to-day good choice-bad choice drama that plays out before us.
Let’s join together as moms and dads on gospel-centered mission to our children and our larger communities. It’s a message that can change the hearts of a generation and bring our children to the one true savior. Fight the good fight, stay the course and remember Christ has already won the battle, so let’s celebrate that in the lives our our kids!
Grace and Peace.