Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Bonhoeffer on children

'Children are a heritage from the Lord' (Psalm 127:3) and they should be acknowledged as such. It is from God that parents receive their children, and it is to God that they should lead them.

Couldn't agree more Dietrich. Too often 'man' takes his right to have children for granted and then once they are here, does not bear the responsibility well ofaising them.
With the advances of medical science, there are a whole manner of ways to bring a child into this world yet I still believe that it is still God, as Bonhoeffer puts it, "allows man to share in his continual work of creation". This is at the initiative of God and not, as we presume, under our control. It is a priviledge and not a presumption. When we take decisions about when and how we bring a child into this world (I'm not going any further on ethical/moral implications) we are placing ourselves in God's shoes which should be an extremely sobering thought yet completely underplayed by most.
I now have 2 boys, Daniel aged 3 and James aged 1, and the joy they give me must surely come from God, not sure I could have created these treasures given even my best attention - they must be gifts from God!

Once our children come, we are again tempted to play God by making them into our own image.Of course they will take after us and initially learn all that they know from their parents but each of them has their own unique future, hopefully shaped by God.
We should become like stewards of a great treasure that is not our own and be ready to obey the one whose treasure it really is. Those instructions are given in some detail throughout the Bible and yet often as 'stewards' we know better and bow to contemporary or cultural thinking.

Last year a group of parents at Emmanuel Church spent some time reading 'Shepherding A Child's Heart' by Ted Tripp, watching the accompanying dvd's and then discussing what we felt was a loyal Biblical outworking of parenting.

We found this material to be challenging and provocative primarily because much of it was seemingly counter-cultural and, for me, exposed how much my thoughts on parenting came from the world rather than from God. If I am to lead my sons to God then I'm sure that I must do it in a way it is directed by God.

Psalm 127 says that,
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
I love this verse. It evokes my inner warrior! (love that Band of Brothers stuff). It also reminds me what weapons of the kingdom my boys could be if shaped, honed, sharpened etc. What a legacy I could leave if my boys became warriors for God, arrows that will fly well, are true to their intended course, impact and embed in their target, cause damage for the kingdom.

Our children are not our own but whilst we've got them, lets give them our best shot (arrow pun intended!)

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