Continuing with the theme of my recent post on Jesus-Shaped Spirituality, I’d like to touch-on what it could mean to have a theology of parenting that is wholly centered on the person of Jesus. Since becoming a parent 18 months ago, this is something that I really haven’t heard much about in Christian parenting circles and literature. Every once in awhile I’ll find a bite-sized piece somewhere that mentions the idea of Jesus offering wisdom for parenting, but in my experience, this is not a concept that is widely explored or taught.
But why in the WORLD is that? As Christians, the foundation of our faith is Christ. Through his death and resurrection He offers us new life, and by His life and Spirit we are empowered to follow His example as we walk a road of discipleship. In the Gospels He repeatedly asks us to follow Him, to be taught by Him, to reorient our lives around His leadership. Shouldn’t this apply to parenting? We are so happy to submit ourselves and our children to the teaching of men when it comes to caring for a baby and discipline, but do we look to Jesus in these areas? We might pull-out a Bible verse here and there, usually one that doesn’t even apply, but do we look to His life and teachings to show us the way to parent?
What happens to Jesus in the crush of the information pushers? Unfortunately, he is usually pushed aside. Many Christians do not even think of him as one with reliable information about their lives. Consequently they do not become his students. What does he have to teach them? It is very common to find Christians who work hard to master a profession and succeed very well in human estimation, while the content of their studies contains no reference at all to Jesus or his teaching. How could this be?……. Far too often he is regarded as hardly conscious. He is taken as a mere icon, a wraithlike semblance of a man living on the margins of “real life” where you and I must dwell. He is perhaps fit for the role of sacrificial lamb or alienated social critic, but little more.” -Dallas Willard in The Great Omission
I think Willard is touching on something huge here, something bigger than the small slice of life I’m talking about. In general, we don’t trust that Jesus is smart enough to have something to contribute to what we’re doing, certainly not parenting when he didn’t even have his own kids. How could our parenting journey be different if we looked to Jesus as our Teacher not only in overtly spiritual or “church” matters, but in the every day things like tantrums and naptime? What if we applied His teachings found in the Gospels to our relationship with our kids? If we looked to Him for guidance in our parenting decisions, even things like nursing and sleeplessness, maybe our souls would be conformed to his through the process of walking with him in these everyday acts and following the wisdom he offers if we would only ask.