Thursday, November 17, 2011

Whitewashed Tombs


I was recently shaken by a conversation I had with the women in my Bible study on Esther  (which is amazing by the way - I highly recommend it!) and after praying through what we talked about, I wanted to share what the Lord's been showing me on the subject.

During our study, one of my friends said her good friend told her that even the "good" girls in the youth group these days are sleeping around, and this broke my heart.  I don't want to accept that for our children!  I agree that our society and culture's morals are declining rapidly, but that doesn't mean our kids are destined for that too.  I'm a "fix-it" type personality so immediately after this was mentioned, I thought, "OK, how do I avoid this for my kids?!"  And ultimately I think it comes down to our definition of "good."  If the "good" kids are doing it, are they really "good"? And if they are "good" is "good" good enough? Seems like that definition is broadening right alongside of the culture's idea of morality. 

But then it struck me.  

I don't want "good" kids.  I want godly kids.  Kids whose deepest desire is to please God first.  True obedience, not compliance. I'm not saying that this equals they'll never mess up.  They will and it may even be sexually though I pray it doesn't, but with godly kids there will be sorrow over sin and repentance for it, and the Lord will redeem it.  I don't just want a "good" kid that follows the rules most of the time, makes me look good, and seems like their OK from the outside.  They may not know Jesus at all:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.  So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." Matthew 23:27-28

or this especially scary verse in Matthew 22:

19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demonsin your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

I want kids whose lives show fruit from their relationship with Jesus.  That aren't just obeying because mom and dad expect it, or because they fear punishment, or because they are trying to earn their salvation which is a pointless pursuit, but because they don't want to lose fellowship in their relationship with the Lord; they want to honor Him above all.

So the big question is - how do we raise godly kids?

This is obviously a huge question and I don't pretend or presume to have this down, but this is where I felt the Lord leading.  

It starts with us.  

We need to ask ourselves are we living lives of whitewashed tombs?  Or is our relationship with Jesus the most important thing in our own life - is He first?  Do I look "good" because I'm spending time with Jesus daily - letting him refine me, letting him prune me so the good fruit can grow - or because I am striving to live a certain way because that is how a Christian is supposed to live?  Kids can spot a hypocrite a mile away.  This doesn't mean that we should be scared that our kids see the "good, the bad and the ugly";  that is inevitable.  But do they see humility with the good or do they see pride?  Do they see remorse and repentance following the bad and ugly or do they see us shrugging it off like it's no big deal?  Are we humble enough to ask their forgiveness when we sin against them?  What about our spouse?

We focused a lot on this when I worked at a Christian school in Charlotte.  It was very important to our head master that we didn't just ask for compliance in the classroom - a whitewashed tomb looks like compliance - but that we looked for true obedience so that we were not fooled by the compliant students (assuming they had a relationship with the Lord just because they acted the right way on the outside) because some compliant, some "good" kids aren't actually Christians at all, but their "good" behavior can be reinforced in such a way by Christian adults that gives them the sense that they are - so scary!  

Being a Christian isn't looking good on the outside, but living a life of repentance from our sin and growth in our relationship with Jesus.  This will lead to "fruit" which makes us look good on the outside.  This ties to parenthood in that when we saw the sin in our students lives, we were challenged to get to the heart of it, not just dole out a punishment for the lying, cheating, name calling etc and continue merrily diagramming the sentence we were in the middle of.  We were to look at the root of the disobedience and walk through it with them (what does shouting at so and so show us about what's going on in your heart? Answer: I am angry or I am impatient etc etc. This reveals to them their sinful heart which ultimately shows their need for a savior - shows them they are not, in fact, good.  When we just punish the behavior and keep going it may change the outward behavior (though many times it won't even do that!), but it may not cause them to reflect on what that behavior shows about the state of their soul which is ultimately what we care about as parents in the first place, right?  It was amazing how effective doing this was for bringing out repentance in these students.  I think using these principals can help us avoid turning our children in to "compliant" "good" kids to truly obedient kids - obeying out of pure motives and more importantly seeing that they need Jesus to save them - they can't earn their salvation by being good.  All of that training came from a book called Shepherding a Child's Heart which I feel like gives us really practical advice in avoiding the "good kid" scenario we were talking about in the youth group.  My sister-in-law is a big proponent of a parenting curriculum called Growing Kids God's Way which helps in raising kids counter-culturally.  And obviously the Bible is our main resource for how to raise our kids!

I'd love any thoughts or resources you have on this subject too since many of you  have way more experience than I do in the parenting arena.  


Digger said...

This post is great!! I'm so glad I found your blog! I'm a new follower!

Digger ~xoxo~

jennbhouston said...

You've written my heartbeat! Love this post. It's what I'm chewin on these days.

Post a Comment

Anybody out there? Bueller...Bueller?