Monday, April 18, 2011

What Picture are We Painting for Kids?

Last fall I read two different blogs giving the same quote from William Farley's Gospel-Powered Parenting. That quote stirred me on multiple levels. I wanted to read the whole book but held off starting until I was finished with the 90-day Bible reading plan I started in January. Before I go on to share the quote, let me just give a huge shout-out to reading God's Word and doing it on a fast track some day soon. It was really challenging sometimes, but I stayed mostly on course (finished in 95 days) and have been profoundly stretched and strengthened. I'm still processing and have some plans for what to do next but let me just say, "extraordinary experience!"

Larry and I believe the perspective that "marriage preaches" is a tremendously valuable one. It has implications for the health of marriages, the aspirations of our children, the purity of our teenagers, the strength of the Church, and more.

Even if you only read the last paragraph, it may affect your priorities and change the course of a child's life. As we paint for our children a compelling picture of marriage and give them something to aspire to, it has the power to influence their choices about purity, their own future marriage, and even their relationship with God. If what our kids see is a boring, stressful or grueling experience of marriage, it may inadvertently spur them to "live it up" while they're young rather than hold out for God's best.

Read the quote for yourself and let us know how it inspires you!
"This mystery (marriage) is profound, and I am saying that it refers to the Christ and the church." Here is Paul's point. From before time began, God had marriage on his mind. He was preparing a bride for his Son, whom he would marry forever. It would take the crucifixion and resurrection of the Groom to bring this marriage to pass. Think of it. God created the most intimate human relationship, marriage, to speak of the intimacy of his relationship with his church.

God created the institution of human marriage to reflect, or mirror forth, this eternal union. In other words, human marriage exists to point men and angels to the eternal marriage of Christ and his church. The gospel made this divine marriage possible. Here is our point: human marriage exists to preach the gospel. It exists to illustrate the fruit that should follow the preaching of the gospel in the church.

To whom does our marriage preach? Of course, the first audience is God and his angels. They watch and rejoice, or if your marriage is a war zone, they grieve.

Who is the second audience? Most of us think first about our non-Christian neighbors. Maybe they will see our attempts to model Christian marriage and want the gospel? They might, and we hope they will, but actually they are the third audience.

The second audience, usually overlooked by most Christians, is our children. What is our marriage telling them about Christ and his bride? They see it all. They hear our fights. They absorb our attitudes. They know who or what really sits on the throne of our lives. They watch how we handle resentment. They hear the way we talk to each other. They know when we hear the Sunday sermon and apply it. They also know when we ignore it.

The message that our marriage preaches either repels or attracts our children. God wants your child to watch your marriage and think, "I want a marriage like that, and I want the God that produced it." Or, "When I think of the beauty of the gospel, I think of my parents' marriage. I want to be part of a church that is loved by God the way my dad loves my mother. I want to be part of a church that finds its joy in submitting to Christ as my mother joyfully submits to my father."
I pray that reading this quote heaps no guilt or sorrow for those struggling mightily in a marriage. I simply pray that it reminds all of us that the battle for a thriving marriage is POSSIBLE and WORTH IT.

Right now, while the week is young, is a great time to book a babysitter for this weekend and call it a date!

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