Our Kids’ First Look At God…Patience
Where are our kids first exposed to God? In church? Sunday School? Bedtime Stories? I don’t think so. I think that our kids’ first look at God….Is (or at least-should be) in us, their parents.
I posted recently that raising kids isn’t very complicated and got some pretty mixed responses about it. One of the primary objections to my post was that there are so many, so obvious, very complicated issues that come up when we’re raising our kids that it isn’t fair for me to say that raising them is simple. And I won’t argue that there are times when raising kids is confusing at best, and terrifying at worst.
But I also think that although some specific circumstances around raising kids might have tough questions to answer, the overall theme of child-rearing is profoundly simple. I say that because I think we can know exactly what kind of parents to be to our children, by looking at what kind of father God is to us.
I believe that we should model our parenting after God’s treatment of His children, and in so doing….We’ll teach our kids what to expect from God when they grow up.
God is incredibly patient with us.
Look at what Paul says in 1Corinthians 8:4-12 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth — as indeed there are many “ gods” and many “ lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
It seems to me that in the church at Corinth there were Christians….Christians, called “brothers” by Paul….who weren’t convinced yet that there was only one true God. Paul plainly says that not all possess the knowledge that idols aren’t real and that there’s only one God, and he’s talking about Christians.
How extraordinary is that patience, that God would accept as a child someone who still believed in false gods?
God gives His children time to mature, even enduring the doubt of the children He provides everything for and the rebellion of the children that He sent Jesus to die for.
And I believe that one of the overall concepts of parenthood can be seen in that example of God’s patience with us. We should be patient with our children, suffering long with them when they test us.
And when our children see how patient we are with them, they’ll be much less likely to lose heart later in life and assume that God has abandoned them. Because their first exposure to God will be through our example.
But how does that patience harmonize with discipline? Does having patience automatically mean that we can never put an end to rebellious behavior? I think that patience and discipline go hand in hand, in fact–I think patience wouldn’t exist without an expectation of disciplined behavior. And that characteristic of God is what I want to look at next.