We had a chance to participate in a few conversations this weekend on Christianity and culture, kingdom-building and parenting (and the intersections therein.) Thanks to Leigh for making it happen: it is always fruitful to have space, time and ideas to spur thoughtfulness and I am hoping these conversations continue.
One thing that struck me again is that so much of life, from the practical to philosophy and theology, is about holding two seemingly opposing ideas in tension.
Mercy and justice. Law and grace. Liberty and responsibility.
Sometimes we luck out, and the pendulum finds itself at rest between two extremes without much effort on our parts. Other times we have to fight to correct our inclination to one extreme or the other, and push ourselves towards the balance.
We know, both Biblically and sociologically, that our kids need a sense of mission to make faith real and lasting. Jesus died on the cross for more than just forgiveness of sin and making us feel better. He is making things new. He cares about this world. He wants us to care too.
If we neglect kingdom-building, we truncate our children’s view of the gospel and make Christianity smaller and less meaningful in their eyes, or even end up promoting an anti-gospel where the purpose of life is happiness and security.
However, we can take this sense of mission too far in the other direction. Our children are a particular gift and responsibility from God. We have a limited amount of time to be with them. If we spend all of that making them feel like they are always second to mission, they will grow to resent it.
There is a middle way, of inviting them to be on mission with us, while leaving plenty of space for childhood, for play, for unhurried time to build that relationship. May we love others boldly and lose our lives for Christ’s sake and his kingdom. May we love our children well and guide them so that they always remember who they are, beloved children of their parents and of God.