Last year, in a conversation with a friend about parenting, he made a statement that stuck with me. He said, “I think the best model of parenting my own children is the way that God relates to me as a father.” I didn’t really get it at the time, but for some reason it has stuck in my mind.
Over the past weekend we have welcomed the newest member of our family and I have naturally wandered back into reflecting on the past year and the nature of parenting as it relates to all of life. I come back also, to this statement, and I think am starting to catch on to its meaning a little more.
I think the key issue is to see the basis and beauty of personhood in parenting.
We live in a world that seems to be more divided than ever before. The issues that separate culture today are sharp and complex. We have seen the news. Race. Gender identity. Inequality. Corruption. Poverty. Terrorism. In this harsh setting, many christians feel utterly puzzled when it comes to expressing their faith in an effective and compelling way. Often times we don’t even know where to start.
Scripture calls the people of God to be a powerful missionary force of love, wisdom and healing in a world that is continually falling apart. Something is deeply missing in the lives of many christians today. They seem to be totally blind to the power of the answers that they hold.
The problem is that many of us have been raised in the religious setting but have never really asked ourselves how our christian convictions fit into the broader landscape of ideas that fill this world. We may have accepted our christianity as our faith system but we have never asked how it extents to all of life, or how it interacts with the big questions that every person around us is asking.
How does the gospel pass from simply being our private Sunday morning routine to empowering our thinking, speaking and action in every aspect of culture and society? How do we learn to think as christians in an anti-christian society? How do we deal with the complex line of questions that are fired at the church today?
These are just some of the questions that we will ask at this year’s youth retreat. Join us for a stimulating, challenging and empowering time of rooting ourselves deeper into the true power of the gospel for all of life.
Where do we find that true sense of identity and personality for which we so deeply long? We may look inward, thinking that we are the greatest and most complex beings that exist. We can set ourselves high on a pedestal. We can spend our whole life trying to prove to ourselves and everyone around that we are as good as we imagine.
Or we can see it slightly differently. We can see our personality as a reflection of the greater light from which which we get our being. We can see that we are vessels, and that the glory to which we strive cannot indeed be contained in this little world. We can see that our true greatness lies in the greatness of the One to whom we owe our breath.
Thus there are two ways to personality. There is the bondage of working hard to live up to the standard that we set for ourselves and hoping that it will deliver. Or there is the liberty of opening our doors to our need in our Maker, and letting him welcome us home. C. S. Lewis puts it this way:
“Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”¹
- Beyond Personality, C. S. Lewis (1944).
This week I have met in my reading an individual who has been challenging me in new and unique ways. Rosaria Butterfield was an English professor at Syracuse University. She was a stalwart feminist and defender of gay and lesbian rights. Rosaria met Jesus in the life and witness of a pastor who was willing to sit and discuss her worldview with her. The book is a fascinating read and very well written. There is so much in it that is challenging me, and so much that could be discussed. But perhaps the biggest thing that stands out to me as I work my way through the first half of the book is her discussion of her entrance into the christian world, and the complexities that this process caused.¹
Its now been nearly a year and a half since Tim Challies started his series of blog posts on productivity. The beginning of that series of articles was a new chapter in my own personal growth. I knew that my life needed a great deal of growth in the areas of discipline and productivity, and so I took that as my opportunity to try and tidy things up. As I look back, its amazing to me how long it has taken to really see some of the deeper fruit of change. And yet, I also realize that the lessons I am learning are foundational and will stick with me for a long time. The first is one that I have already written about. It is this: that real change takes time. Today I want to take it a step further. Continue reading