The Desperate Need for Grace
In all likelihood, parenting has always been challenging. Whether you are a postmodern parent raising kids in the 21st century, a renaissance parent raising children in the 16th century, a first century parent with first century kids, or a cave parent with cave kids, I’m convinced many of the challenges of parenting are the same. Babies have always cried all night, toddlers have always ran around like crazy, children have always needed to be trained to behave, and teenagers have always taxed their parent’s patience.
So when I say that this generation of parents who especially needs to have grace, I’m not discounting the fact that all those who have gone before needed it as well. I am saying that we are in exceptional need of grace not because of the timeless parenting challenges, but because of the unique ones. The biggest thing we, as postmodern parents, are facing that past generations did not deal with is the pervasive distrust of authority and knowledge claims outside an individual’s experience.
Basically, our culture doesn’t trust what people say unless they can experience it. They don’t believe in a Jesus who doesn’t work and show himself in their lives. They don’t trust a morality that doesn’t factor in the individual’s happiness and predilections. They don’t believe in a system they can’t feel and verify through their own interaction. This is a problem.
It is a problem for those parents who desperately want their children to know the Jesus they know, live according to the standards seen in the Bible, and maintain a biblical worldview informed by an active faith in God. What makes it worse, is that our gut reaction as parents is to tighten down on our kids when we see these problems. We instinctively become more forceful about our own beliefs, separate more rigidly from the antithetical culture, and rid our homes of margins for doubt and mistakes.
Let me make this clear, doing these things will not conquer the culture. You do not quiet the shouts of a world screaming against God by screaming back louder. You cannot expect to build our children’s confidence in the authority of Scripture and the presence of Jesus in our lives by bullying them with it. It is the bullying by people in power with knowledge they claimed was right that led to the postmodern condition in the first place.
The only recourse we have in fighting against the zeitgeist of doubt, distrust, and disillusionment is the grace of the gospel. Our children, more than ever before, need to know they can be forgiven, redeemed, and reconciled to God regardless of their merit, despite their doubts, and in spite of their sin. They need to know that Jesus’ love does not require they understand him fully or be fully convinced of every moral command made in the Bible. They need to know they are justified because of who Christ is and the gracious gift extended through his death and resurrection.
We don’t need to worry that our kids have a hard time trusting Christ at first, He is more than capable of earning their trust by interacting with them. We don’t need to fear when they struggle with the morality of the Bible, the Holy Spirit can and will change their hearts. What we do need to worry about is whether or not we’re treating them in a way that shows God’s grace or hides it.
We, the postmodern parents need grace and we need to treat our children the way God treats His. Parenting children in a postmodern culture is extraordinarily challenging, but it’s impossible without an atmosphere of grace that allows our children to experience the redemptive power of the gospel.
Written by Cody Kimmel