In his letter to Christians, the apostle John defined what love for God is. In chapter 5, verse 3 of his letter, John wrote: this is love for God: to obey his commands, and his commands are not burdensome.
Christian parents, we are required by God to both develop our children and to disciple our children. In the previous 4 episodes I have been attempting to persuade you that when it comes to discipling our children, we should train them about the basics of Christian living and how to do them well. And so far, we have learned from John that the basics of Christian living involve believing that Jesus is the Christ and loving others for his sake. John now adds another basic of Christian living and that is obeying God commands. Here John would have in mind the commands that Christ has given us. He himself heard from Jesus’ own mouth that disciples of Christ are to be trained to obey all that Jesus Christ has commanded.
So children need to be learning from their parents what the commands that Christians are, and they also need to see their parents obeying those commands by the way they live their daily life. Consistently obeying is not always easy and requires us as parents to be abiding in the love of God, repenting when we deviate or breach his commands, and exercising constant self-control while walking in the Spirit.
But there is an important approach to obedience that many of us neglect or ignore and therefore, we don’t teach our children the importance of it. Obedience is not only being consistent in obeying commands but also just as importantly it’s about being creative. I want to challenge you today to learn to creatively obey Christa to teach your children to be creatively obedient.
John says that God’s commands are not burdensome and that is because they are primarily about loving others, our fellow Christians and our fellow creatures. When you think about it - loving others whether it be respecting them, caring for them, supporting them or serving them, is a wonderful, beautiful and gloriously better way to live. Compare this way of life with being selfish, uncaring, thoughtless, disrespectful or abusive. It’s a no-brainer as to which is the better and greater way to live.
But to obey God’s commands to love him and love others is a very broad command with very little specific detail on what, when, and how of loving and serving God and others. God’s commands require of us much creativity and ingenuity. It requires us getting to know others to understand their needs, their interests, their desires, and if they allow even their disappointments, fears, or pain. It requires us thinking hard about what we have in terms of personal resources or abilities that can be used to minister to them and serve them for their wellbeing.
When it comes to doing what Jesus commands, we need to be creative and exercise initiative and learn from each other the different ways we can use our imagination and our talents to be of service to others and to make their world and ours a better place. We do not want to raise kids to think that obedience is a dirty word or a negative thing that restricts what we can do. Sometimes it does set boundaries. But obedience is ultimately about ministering God’s best for the welfare of others, in the ways that we are uniquely gifted to do.
And although we are talking about showing and telling our children about the way a Christian approaches obedience, we want them to learn that obeying authority does not have to be an opportunity to do so much more with what we have instead of just the bare minimum.
So, tell your kids to get rid of the attitude when it comes to obeying commands and to instead do what is being asked in a way that excels and surpasses what was requested. Help them to see that obedience is not about robbing of their freedom but about training them to use their freedom in good and constructive ways that serve more than their own needs but serve God and other people. When you do so, your children will be developing their abilities and talents in ways that will set them up for a bright and useful future, working creatively and cooperatively under the guidance and direction of others.
19 April 2021