Series Intro: Last year, my husband and I participated in a theological training course through our church called Porterbrook. As part of the course requirements, I gave a presentation in response to one of the modules. The module contended that all of life is to be lived to the glory of God, and I reflected on that as it pertains to parenting. Recently I’ve been thinking about these principles and thought it might be helpful for my own heart to revisit them. Maybe they can encourage you, too. I’ve broken them into a few parts to appear over the next few weeks.
Part 4: The Pardon of the Cross
Let’s say we didn’t handle the Target incident gracefully. Let’s say we snapped at the cashier and we shook our child just a little forcefully with a threatening glare that prompted their silence. Let’s say we marched our stuff out to the car with said disobedient child in tow, buckled everyone in, and then went on a tirade declaring our utter disappointment and anger. Let’s just say that could happen…
This was perhaps the most beneficial part of the Porterbrook module for me. The authors write, “The way of the cross will crush you if you do not embrace the pardon of the cross. We do not follow the way of the cross to be accepted by God. We are accepted by God so that we might be free to follow the way of the cross. We must constantly return to the cross to find acceptance, pardon, forgiveness, and grace.” They go on to say, “Because of the gospel’s power you can be completely free of all condemnation. Not mostly free; completely free…God is glorified when we believe with all our hearts that those who trust in Christ can never be condemned.”
Even when we react poorly, we are not condemned. Just as there is hope for our children, there is hope for us parents. It is never too late. We can come before our children and ask for even their forgiveness. We can confess that we are far more like them than unlike them. We can demonstrate that we too are only flawed vessels in the hands of a sweet Savior. And in doing so we can point to a glorious God who rescues the foremost of sinners. And by God’s grace we can gain credibility in the eyes of the little sinners whose hearts have been entrusted to us.
So to recap. God is glorified when we know and worship Him. In parenting, I strive to teach my children about who God is that they might worship Him too. And God is glorified as we display His character through Christ-like sacrificial love, even as parents in authority over our children. Further, God is glorified as we recognize our own inadequacy to actually be like Christ and instead approach our children as trophies of his grace. And finally, God is glorified when messed up parents like myself embrace the pardon of the cross so that together with our children, we can run to Jesus, that – as it says in 1 Timothy – he “might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.”