Respect for the Image of God

When our children were born I remember thinking back to my childhood and the things my mom did right that I wanted to do as a parent.  My mom isn’t perfect, she’d be the first to tell you so and the circumstances of my growing up weren’t perfect (my dad died tragically when I was 5), however I grew up knowing that I could trust my mom and that my mom trusted me.  When I was a teenager, my mom had this policy that 1 time every 9 weeks of school I could come down stairs in the morning and say, “I just don’t feel like going to school today” So long as I didn’t have a test and I wasn’t running away from some problem at school, Mom would let me take the day off.  She called them “mental health” days.  I look on that now (20+ years later) and I wonder at the lessons this taught me.  First of all, my mom was teaching me about listening to my spirit and taking a break when you need a break.  In a world that devalues the command to keep Sabbath almost more than any other commandment, the lesson is powerful.  Secondly, I see now that my mom was telling me that she trusted me and respected my ability to make choices and decisions.  I knew that these “mental health” days were given as a trust to me not to be abused and because I knew my mom would listen to me and value where I was coming from I learned to trust her and value her opinion and her rules above all others.

I read once that one of the more amazing things about Jesus is that God chose to entrust his greatest treasure to weak, flawed, sinful human beings.  First entrusted to a unwed teen, then to a bunch of shepherds and foreign kings, then to some fishermen and tax collectors and then to the world who killed him.  But in the resurrection God chose again to entrust the message of resurrection to us broken and imperfect those we may be.  God trusts us.  He trusts us with his message, with his Spirits gifts, with the generations that will come behind us.  God chooses to trust us and when we see that we learn that we can trust him all the more.

I think about those lessons when I think about our children as young as they are.  With regard to respect, Michelle Anthony encourages us to “show it first and expect it next”.  That is hard with our little ones and yet I know that the journey begins now.  It begins in respecting our children enough to let them say what they need to say, even if we disagree, even if they are clearly wrong, even if they end up needing to be disciplined for a wrong choice.  There is power in giving them the respect of letting them choose and fail and get back up again.  There is respect in listening even when we disagree or don’t understand.  There is respect in saying, in the face of all that, “I love you and value you, no matter what.  And though you’ve made a mistake, I’m willing to let you try again knowing that I have your back.”  After all, isn’t that the grace that the Lord has shown to us?

I hope we raise our children knowing that they can trust us and knowing that we trust them.  I pray that it makes a big difference in the kinds of choices they make.  I pray that we will remember that even though they are our children and look and behave so much like Wes and I, the first and deeper image they bear is the image of their Creator and they are meant to look and behave like the Lord, not like us.  And I pray that we will never fail to bow down to the image of God we see in them, giving glory, honor, and respect to the Lord who creates, redeems, and sustains us all.

Pastor Toni Ruth

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