GOSPEL BEAUTY ON DISPLAY

During the month of February, with Valentine’s Day as the occasion, advertisers and other purveyors of culture naturally emphasize romantic love. The proliferation of balloons, cards and chocolate, while a delightful opportunity to  appreciate “beloved ones” is accompanied by the darker side of Cupid. What in former times was delicately  veiled and enjoyed within the protection of marriage is emblazoned on magazine covers, graphically described in popular music, and endlessly forwarded and tweeted about on social media platforms. Our children are flooded with ideas, words, images assumptions and expectations about sexual experience that are difficult to filter. As followers of Christ, living under his rule of Agape love, we as parents have been given a wonderful gift to help us steer our children through these turbulent waters.

In Mark 1, we are introduced to the concept of “the gospel” in the very first sentence, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”,  or to put it in a more expanded way : “The start of the good news of Jesus the divine rescuing King”. Later in verse 14  Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  No cross is mentioned, no sin is mentioned, no resurrection mentioned. Instead, Jesus’ gospel is that 1) the time is fulfilled and, 2) the kingdom of God has arrived. What is going on here and how does this help parents?

Jesus understood himself as the climax of a huge story. Throughout the New Testament reference is made to Jesus’ ministry including his death and resurrection as the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament (e.g. Luke 24:25-27). His coming inaugurated God’s rule on Earth: the overthrow of rebellious spiritual rulers , the rescue of a humanity that had be enslaved to sin and death, the unification of Jews and Gentiles into one people empowered to live in perfect fellowship with God. Now, anyone who is in Christ is part of a renewed humanity, living lives of others-focused, self-giving love just as our Divine King has done. It is a beautiful, magnificent story, with a divinely given, Holy Spirit empowered calling! And it effects everything we do, think  and say.

Flash forward to now.

As we—Christian parents—grow in our capacity to grasp the immense love of God for us displayed in Christ, and the beyond-our-wildest-imagination privilege we have as belonging to God’s divine family, we must paint in vivid colors the beautiful vision of the good news: God’s divinely-appointed King has established God’s Kingdom and we can all live in it — right now. When we talk about learning, or playing, or music, or marriage, nature or anything, we bring the good news about the Right-Now-Kingdom-of- God into the conversation. We commend to our children the beautiful vision of a deeply loving, merciful Creator, a self-giving rescuing Savior, and an ever-present teaching, guiding, helping and comforting Holy Spirit who free us from the chains of depression, anxiety, hopelessness, loneliness, worthlessness, bitterness and every other torment of that other kingdom . We have been given everything we need to live in the new Kingdom and to lives of joy in the face of difficulties and hope in the face of suffering. Our worth and value are unshakable because we are hidden inside the perfection of Jesus.

We are not called to be fearful of our culture: it is passing away. We are not called to be anxious parents: we have a Heavenly Father who cares for us and for them. There is a place and a time to talk with our children about the empty temptation and confusion that our culture offers up under the guise of sexual pleasure and fulfillment. It is tempting for us to focus on the negative consequences of engaging in sexual contact outside of a marriage covenant… but that is not the best way.

The best way, or as Paul put it , the more excellent way, is to commend a massive and breath-takingly beautiful vision of life in the Kingdom of the Beloved Son, including the complimentary nature and shared purpose of male and female image-bearers of God, and God’s design for sexual union in Marriage. To paraphrase a well-known hymn, when you consistently show the beauty in the face of Christ, “the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”.


QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

  1. Are you fearful and anxious for your children when you think of the direction our culture is moving in?
  2. When thinking on the topic of sexuality—especially in regards to teaching your children—do you mostly think about the negative consequences of sexual sin (e.g. disease, teenage pregnancy, gender confusion, divorce) or do you think with wonder and joy at God’s design for men and women, living in a community of love, whether married or unmarried?
  3. Has your grasp on the massively beautiful story of God’s love revealed in scripture, in Jesus and in your own life, grown over time?
  4. How can you make a beautiful picture of the gospel central to all your discussions about life with you children?
  5. Read Ephesians 3:14-21. Paul prays for the Ephesians to have supernatural power by the Holy Spirit to grow in their comprehension of God’s love so that they may filled with the “fullness of God”, in order to live like He lives. Take time to pray for yourself and your children this way. God’s love is so massive, you can’t understand it without His help.
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