I often find myself hanging out in a park next to the swimming pool where my kids swim. This is not a bad thing, because people watching is usually entertaining. You can tell a lot about household dynamics by watching what happens on a playground. I watch the kids interact with each other and with their parents, and I think about my own kids and others I know that are in various stages of growth. Sometimes I smile as I watch. Sometimes I cringe. Sometimes I even shed a tear of empathy or joy.
My wife and I got lots of different parenting “advice” when our kids were younger. Some of it wise. Some of it foolish. Some of it frustrating. But we heard it all. One of the better pieces of parenting advice that we received was “do not negotiate with terrorists.”
Let’s face it. Sometimes parenting can feel like a hostage situation. Without structure and direction, life with little ones can sometimes feel like guerilla warfare. But we must remember that God put parents in the place of authority over their little ones in order to help them to grow up knowing and loving Him. There must be a definite chain of command from God, through the parents, to the children in order for any semblance of order and peace to remain in a house. Parents are to live under God’s authority and in charge of their kids. Children are called to obey their parents in the Lord. Terrorism occurs when kids try to fight God’s order. And because all of us are born with sinful hearts, all of us chafe at submitting to authority. Parents. Kids. All of us. As parents, we have to set the tone in order to love, protect, and raise our kids in the fear of the Lord. And part of that means not giving in to their terror threats.
We’re by no means perfect at my house, yet hopefully we are growing in grace in our parenting. And hopefully our kids are also learning that terrorism will not work in our house. Hopefully that’s true at your house too!
Here’s the difficult part. (Wait, that wasn’t difficult enough?)
As those who profess to follow Jesus, we sometimes also try to negotiate our way out from under His authority so we can do only what we want. So we can define our own kind of Christianity. We try to set conditions for our discipleship. Or we come up with all kinds of reasons for why we can’t follow or obey what Jesus calls us to do.
But there is hope. Jesus loves terrorists. Like me. Like you. Like a guy named Saul that He met and changed heading down a road toward Damascus. Jesus loves us enough to get us moving back in the right direction and following Him. He loves us enough to help us grow in His grace. He loves us enough to help us learn how to say no to ourselves and yes to Him.
But Jesus does not negotiate with terrorists. As we finish Luke 9 this Sunday, we’ll see Jesus rebuke His followers and some people who claimed to want to follow Him. Because as Lord, He is the one who sets the terms of discipleship, and He is the one that defines who we should love and how we should love them. We either accept His terms and surrender, or we get left behind along the Kingdom road.
How do we accept His terms? Come to our combined language communion service at 11 on Sunday to find out more!
See you then!