“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16).
The Easter season annually inspires hundreds of sermons, homilies, small group discussions, bible studies, and conversations, but hardly any of them will center around the idea of parenthood. But in many ways the Easter story is about parenting: a father allowing his only son to be ridiculed, abused, hated, and violently crucified on a cross —for the sake of others.
God the Father had the power to save his Son, and Jesus even makes a comment during his arrest and betrayal that “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53). Instead of a divine act of intervention, God allowed His Son to suffer for the benefit of humanity.
An arrest and execution was terribly unfair to a man who devoted his entire life to selflessly serving, healing, helping, sacrificing, empowering encouraging, inspiring, redeeming, and loving others.
Unfortunately, Jesus’s type of life is not what our culture and society thinks of as being “successful.” Instead, fame, fortune, and power are what we value—and we raise our children accordingly.
Related: Five Reasons Christian Parents “Lose” their Children
If we were really honest with ourselves, we want our children to grow up to be the smartest, brightest, most talented students possible. That way they’ll be able to do well in school, receive good grades, win awards, get trophies, become accepted into elite universities, land a well-paying job, marry the right person, buy a big house in a safe neighborhood, retire early, and live happily ever after.
Sure, I want my kids to be like Christ. I want them to be an upstanding honest and moral citizen, contributing to the betterment of society. But do I want them to actually emulate the life of Christ?
Do I want my children to be considered fools for believing in a supernatural God?
Do I want my children to talk about Jesus with their classmates—even if it means they’ll get bullied and made fun of?
Do I really want my children talking about God in public—even if people think they’re crazy?
Do I really want my children to give up their entire lunch so that someone else can eat—even if it means sacrificing their own health?
Do I really want my children giving money to the crazy panhandler on the corner of the street?
Do I really want my children to endanger their lives by going on a missions trip to a third world country?
Do I really want my children freely giving away their possessions to someone in need—even if they could desperately use the money for themselves?
Do I really want my children interacting with the poor, sick, unstable, unreliable, and “sinful” people—even if it means they’ll get betrayed and abandoned?
Do I really want my children giving up lucrative careers to become full-time missionaries—even if it means a lifetime of poverty?
Do I really want my children continuously sacrificing for the sake of helping others—even if it means that they’ll be the ones missing out on numerous opportunities?
Do I really want my children to forgive others—even to those who don’t deserve it?
Do I really want my children to seek out God’s will for their life—even if it means they’ll have to relocate to the other side of the world?
Do I really want my children to empathize with the hurting, distraught, lost, and hopeless—even though it’ll bring lots of emotional trauma and stress?
Do I really want my children fighting corruption and injustice—even if they get arrested, threatened, hurt, or persecuted?
Do I really want my children to stand up for those without a voice—even if it means facing humiliation and shame?
What do I really want for my children? Too often, what I want for them is the exact opposite of a Christ-like life.
Ultimately, am I judging their success—and my ability as a parent—on earthly priorities or spiritual ones? Do I value the way they follow Jesus, or do I idolize superficial accomplishment such as academic, financial, athletic, musical, and intellectual achievements?
Parents often wrongfully use Christianity as a way to safeguard kids from “the real world.” We misuse our faith as a form of escapism, where we can blissfully teach our children about the miracles, victories, and happy stories about Jesus—without encouraging them to actually follow His real-life example.
We use Christianity to protect our children but rarely consider our spirituality as a calling to challenge them to a life of humble service—requiring very real pain, suffering, and sacrifice (but also joy, contentment, satisfaction, and love).
Also by Stephen: Six Things I Wish Christians Would Stop Doing
It’s easy to treat Christianity as a type of fun, exciting, and wonderful adventure we have with our children (and it often is) but the reality is that we hardly consider God worth dying for, struggling for, making concessions for—especially when it comes to our kids.
We want the best for our children, and according to our world, this rarely coincides with a belief or lifestyle related to God. Passionately following God means that the secular world won’t portray your children as having—or being—the best. In fact, they might be viewed as having—or being—the worst. The might be surrounded by the poor, hurting, wounded, angry, and they might be considered weak and powerless fools—but this is when they’ll be most like Jesus.
A father sent his son to love the world. If only I were brave enough to do the same. God help us.