I’m starting a new parenting book today. It’s a bit different from the books I’ve read so far, which are mostly research-based, advice-giving books. This one aims to change your whole parenting mindset. The author wants you to see yourself as an ambassador of God to your children, rather than the owner of them; hence, he says we all ought to think carefully about how God would parent our children, and then copy him as well as we can.
I think this is a great idea. In fact, it matches my philosophy for parenting quite well. But I do have a problem with one theme that I’ve noticed. He strings it throughout the first chapter, and it seems clear to me that his very relationship with Jesus is characterized by this as well.
He doesn’t think that the east and west are all that far apart.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” Psalm 103:12. I feel even more free every time I read that passage. The sin I used to have is INFINITELY far away from me! What!?! That’s the good news right there! Jesus’ death and resurrection means that I don’t have to carry sin around anymore. There is no my sin in my vocabulary anymore. I’m not a partaker of darkness anymore. Now I’m a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4)–the very essence of who God is! If anything influences how I parent, it’s that gospel right there.
This author, though, talks about how sin is the real obstacle to truly being an “ambassadorial parent”, as he calls it. Sin makes us do this, causes us to do that, as though sin still had power over us. “Here’s what all of this means:,” he says, “the thing that constantly gets in the way of our ambassadorial calling as parents is us!”
He’s defining us and our sin as the enemy of our parenting.
I cannot accept his premise. I’ll tell you why.
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-” Romans 6:6 (emphasis added)
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 (emphasis added)
You are a new creation as soon as you are in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). God has paid the highest price in order to pluck out the sin in your hearts and replace it with his Holy Spirit. He raises us up, makes us able to stand in power because of his grace, his mercy, and his love, and gives us life to the fullest. I refuse to reduce my faith from this place: I am no longer a slave to sin; I am a Son of God. Sin has no power over me anymore. Satan has no power over me anymore. I’ve been grafted into the family of God and I’m staying! I’m not going to act like I am weak to sin–like sin still has a hold over me–because God says I’ve been freed from sin! So I’m going to act like it, talk like it, and parent like it, regardless of what the real enemy, Satan, is whispering to me.
“Sooo, why aren’t you a perfect parent then?”
Good question. Sin has no real power over me, but as much as I choose to submit to darkness, darkness will reign in my life.
Satan can still tempt us. He can whisper whatever he wants. That’s why our real battle is against him. And he’s cleaver; I’ve also been dabbling in C.S Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters”, where the author illustrates the strategy the enemy uses against us. It’s truly eye-opening to realize how cunning Satan is. He’s not stupid, and he’s not new to the game. He’s going to whisper,
You’re not really free from sin, you worm, don’t you remember how you lost it with your preschooler last week? You’re good for nothing.
It’s a good thing God’s tricked into seeing Jesus when he looks at you, because if he really saw you, he’d be disgusted.
YOU are the real problem here. If that baby had a different mother, he’d be much better off.
Go ahead and try–but we all know you’re going to fail in the end. You’re only human, after all.
You better pray that God saves those kids from you; we all know you could never parent them well enough.
You will never be enough.
There it is. Do I believe that I’ll never be enough, like the enemy wants, or will I trust that Christ in me is good enough?
Never underestimate Christ in you, which the bible says is the very “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
On your own, yes, you are only human, prone to darkness and enslaved to sin. But you are not on your own, my friend! God will never leave you, nor forsake you, and the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is what is living inside of you! Take this seriously!
And stand up with me against the schemes of the devil.
Refuse to believe the lies he is telling you. Stand on the promises of God and who He says you are, and act like a conqueror. Because you are. (Romans 8:37)
You are more than a conqueror against sin, against impatience, against selfishness, against rebellion, against rage, against forgetting who you really are in Christ.
You can be an unbelievably great parent because the Father of the universe is living inside of you.
This is what it means to parent from a place of abundance.
Tripp, Paul David. (2016) Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family. Crossway.
Photo is of the Sea of Galilee in Israel.