As some of you know, both my boys have been playing soccer this year. After a couple months of this, I’m finding that this isn’t just good for them in their non-existent hand-eye (or foot-eye) coordination, but it’s good for us as parents as well, as having to drive them to their practices/games almost every day gives us a chance to talk with other parents for basically an uninterrupted hour who are roughly in the same boat as us.
This past week some of the other dads and I were talking about parenting (which isn’t the only topic we talk about, we also talk about our in-laws), and I’m starting to see how common the whole “countdown” tactic is now. Parent or not, you must know what I mean. Basically if you want your kid to do something/comply/step in line, you count down from 10 or 5 or 3 (if you really mean business), and if you get to zero, well then that’s when all hell breaks loose. If done properly, it is a pretty effective (as in scary) tactic.
But the funny thing is as I think back on my own childhood, I realise my parents never used it on me. I think this is for a couple reasons. My dad didn’t have to, because I was already deathly afraid of him (he can yell pretty loud and man alive he was strong) and my mom… well I was happy to do what she asked of me, so she never had to scare me into place.
It’s kind of funny how my parents had such different takes on parenting. One was very loving, nurturing, and empowering to her kids to go out and do the same and be better people in the world for the world, and the other was almost like me. Ah, what can you do?
Next week’s readings are:
As you may have gathered from the subject line, this coming Sunday is Reformation Sunday, and with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation coming up, I’ve had more people ask me about the Reformation than ever (which may be just coincidental… actually it probably is). These texts that we have for Reformation Sunday are the same every year, and I think for good reason.
See, as we are so accustomed to the “fear tactics” that I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to see how we interpret many things in life around that “do (or don’t) or die” type paradigm. For example, don’t speed when you’re driving or else you might get a ticket if you’re caught. But shouldn’t we be concerned with safety and not how our wallets could be hurt? Or study hard so you won’t fail your class. But shouldn’t we be more interested in how we can better ourselves with knowledge than what letter gets attached to our exam?
The point is, we operate out of fear. We reason out of fear. We live in fear. So it makes sense to us that God also works with us out of fear. Like, “be good or go to hell” kind of thing.
But these passages (and I would argue the Reformation as well) tell us that God doesn’t work that way. God doesn’t instill fear in us in order for us to act right. God isn’t that scary parent that has to count down the days of our lives to eternal punishment.
Rather, God loves us. God acts with grace and mercy. God forgives us of all the ways we don’t get it right, and sets us free.
Free from guilt. Free from judgmental attitudes. Free from fear.
In our freedom, we can freely serve one another as we have been served. We can freely forgive as we have been forgiven. We can freely love as we have been loved.
And really, we are loved. Wholly, fully, unabashedly loved.
Thanks be to God.
Have a great week, everyone!