There has only been one set of parents who parented the perfect Child. Though a multitude of parents claim their children are ‘perfect,’ ample evidence abounds that all children are born with a nature bent on saying ‘no’ to authority, human or divine.
In Ephesians 6:1-4 Paul has some specific counsel for families within the local congregation at Ephesus.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honour your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (ESV)
In Luke’s account of the birth and life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he includes one the customary annual visits of his parents to the temple. This annual event had passed uneventfully until the year Jesus turned twelve. His engagement with the religious leaders led to a ‘missing child’ report and quest for his return. Following the exchange which indicates he had not only a human ‘adopted’ father who was entrusted with the task of raising him but also a Father in heaven, Luke records the following –
‘And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.’ (Luke 2:51) This perfect Child submitted Himself as a 12 year old to imperfect parents. Now that’s evidence of self-abasement, isn’t it? Despite the chorus of human-centred counsel which urges a following of the whims of the child, God’s word calls for obedience. This is right.
Learn obedience and submission to authority when you are young and you will find it a valuable character trait when you are older and encounter authorities in other places. In the Old Testament law, this command to obey was accompanied by a promise. Many commands become pathways to discovery of promises, don’t they. God assures a blessing of things ‘going well’ and even ‘long living’ in the land where HE planned on settling them.
But what does Israel’s history teach us? Though loved by the LORD as a child, and called out of Egypt (during the time of Moses) and applied to the journey of Joseph, Mary and the Christ child in Matthew 2, Israel walked away from her Father. He taught her to walk. He took her by the arms and guided her faltering steps. But after being led with cords of kindess and surrounded with bands of love (Read Hosea 11:1-4), God’s children walked away from Him. The more He called, the more they went away (v.2)
How much do the hearts of Christian parents break when their children walk away from them and from their God? Heart-searching inquiry as to our guiltiest in provoking them to anger (Ephesians 6) must be part of the process as we pour out our hearts to a Father in heaven, perfect in all His ways, who parents us His imperfect children. May this season of the year be a time of thanksgiving to God for our families and His, assuming we accurately may describe ourselves as children of God.