Obedience and the “Blend” of Faith

In reading Chapter 2 of Spiritual Parenting, I was kind of surprised to “find” myself in the pages.  Having not read the book before, I’m discovering what Michelle Anthony has to say along with the rest of you.  There were a couple of things that sparked my interest: the quantitative/qualitative difference and Jesus’ response when he found faith in people.  There were other things that I had encountered, read about, or thought about before.  Throughout the chapter, you see clearly that spiritual parenting is intentional parenting.  I’m sure that the author will expand on this throughout.  I do know (from too much experience, regrettably) how easy it is at the end of a long day to put the kids in front of the tv, with me zoned out in my recliner.  I’m expecting this book to challenge that desire in me!

I also found myself grappling with the concept of obedience.  We don’t typically like that word.  It might sound too authoritarian in our ears, too heavy-handed.  I know that I heard “Because I said so!” many times growing up.  And rightly so – parents have a God-given authority and responsibility for their children.  But our parenting needs to be more than “because I said so.”  I’ve also said that my kids many times.  The author speaks to this on page 38: “…as our children mature, we need to help them move from sheer behaviorist obedience to obedience out of wisdom and relationship – trusting that we know best.”  This means that as parents, we must work to be consistent and intentional in our parenting, in the expectations we have of our children.  Yep, this requires work.  But it also requires simply being with your children and teaching them who you are and why you have certain expectations.  I once heard a retired pastor say about families, “no retired minister ever said ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.’  I hear retired pastors all the time say, ‘I wish I had spent more time with my family’.”  I know that this feeling is not limited to clergy!  As we live out our obedience to God in full view of our children, seeking to know and obey Him, and perhaps as we spend a little more time with our various screens (ipad, iphone, laptop, etc.) in sleep mode, our kids will be deeply impacted and shaped to be obedient to God.  And please know, that I’m definitely included in the whole “shut down your laptop” thing…

Another part of chapter 2 that really caught my attention was Anthony’s focus on the “blend” of intellectual assent and works.  A helpful quote about faith is found on page 34: “It’s a blend of intellectual assent and the works that flow from it.  Therefore, spiritual parenting involves creating environments for that blend to happen in your home.”  My kids ask a lot of questions – good, deep theological questions.  I love their natural inquisitiveness and curiosity, especially when it comes to questions of faith.  At times, I feel pressure to have the “right” answer, even to questions that I’ve grappled with myself.  This past Christmas, Mary Ana asked a question about God and Joseph both being Jesus’ father.  Complex theological formulations began dancing in my head, which was an altogether different Christmas experience than visions of gumdrops dancing in my head.  Before I could give my daughter an answer that included the words “incarnation” and “immaculate conception”, my wise wife said, “God is Jesus’ heavenly father and Joseph was Jesus’ earthly dad.”  This was satisfactory for a 6-year-old and produced a sigh of relief from this oft over-intellectualizing father.  It’s important to teach our children about the intellectual aspects of our faith – those beliefs and convictions that we give our assent to.  But it’s equally (if not more) important to live out our faith in simple and consistent ways.  We’re not trying to teach our kids formulas and lists of answers, but rather a way of living in obedience to God that includes and involves our intellect.

My father, though highly intelligent, doesn’t really express his faith in intellectual terms.  It’s not about your brain so much as it’s about what you do and the choices you make.  My dad definitely lived this out.  I would have deep, hours-long conversations about God and faith with my mother on a regular basis, but my dad’s faith was shown more in his willingness to help anybody at the drop of a hat.  I don’t know how many afternoons we spent driving to the homes of various church members to help with one thing or another.  My dad was not a pastor, just a committed lay person, and his willingness to serve had a big impact on me.  One memory in particular has stuck in my mind.  One day, my dad and I were running errands in Kannapolis.  We were on Loop Rd., waiting at a stoplight.  We noticed a car stopped in the middle of the intersection and behind the wheel sat a elderly woman, looking bewildered and scared.  People were behind her, honking their horns impatiently.  We were in the other lane and could have driven on by with no problem.  Without saying a word, my dad got out of the truck and began speaking to the woman.  He then stood in the middle of the intersection, stopping traffic so this woman could make a left hand turn on a busy road.   I remember being really proud of my dad in that moment and I remember learning something about doing the right thing, even when you don’t have to.  There was no intellectual discussion, no theological conversation, just an example of what it means to serve others.  That lesson stuck.  Faith and works.  Faith bearing fruit in our lives.

I hope that as we make our way through this book together, we’ll help one another to live out our faith with more passion and intentionality.  Let’s pray for one another and for our children as we seek to be obedient and faithful!

Grace and Peace,

Wes

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. De Hillyer
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 04:51:17

    As a father, I appreciate the way your dad taught by example. He served in a tangible way, enabling you to understand how important it is to do the right thing, even if you doing have to.

    Your gentle manner around your children is teaching others at church, whether or not you’re aware. Thank you.

    Reply

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