To obey God is the only kind of wealth worth seeking. Danielle Strickland explores why our standards for ourselves and for our children must reflect the Spirit of God.
We had the dedication of my youngest son last week. In The Salvation Army we ‘dedicate’ our children to the Lord, a.k.a Hanna with Samuel. It’s kind of a cool tradition since The Salvation Army is close to a Nazarite order, and that’s what Samuel was… there is a call of Salvationism that runs counter-culture in today's world. Steve and I decided to use an older version of the ceremony because there have been some interesting changes in the wording, and in the content itself.
Conspicuously missing are things like:
...protecting my child from harmful influences (including wealth and finery) and not withholding my child from hardship or suffering for Kingdom advance.
Those promises are simply not in the latest dedication ceremony. Weird. Or is it? Perhaps we’ve become conformed to the culture of our world. Think about it – the world would suggest that happiness is found through wealth and that finery is what we deserve… most of the Western Salvationists I know have more entertainment money that most of the world has for food. As a matter of fact, I think these days in most Corps it’s a badge of honor to collect more and more people who are wealthy – like James (in the New Testament) suggests, it is easy to favour the rich.
To say you are willing for your child to suffer or face hardship for the Gospel is akin to criminal behaviour. It’s as though we think God’s ultimate desire is my personal happiness, or to make my life into a Hallmark commercial (a.k.a the American Dream). Meanwhile, God’s ultimate and greatest desire is the salvation of the whole world. A bit bigger than my small life and family.
Should we succumb to an individual perspective and to a happiness that neglects the majority of the world? It’s as though we agree with the notion that somehow we deserve to be filthy rich while the world suffers. It’s as if we agree that somehow we CAN withhold our children from suffering by giving them wealth and expecting them to be happy. If wealth were the recipe for happiness, then western world depression and suicide rates would not be skyrocketing.
We’ve got to start listening to the Spirit of God again for our standards and for our families. I’m agreeing with a counter-cultural revolutionary stance that I will protect my child from wealth and not withhold them from suffering… not because I want them to suffer – on the contrary – I wish them every deep blessing… but because I see something larger is at stake… my children belong to God and He is much more capable than me at determining the best course for their lives. I relinquish my control for His wisdom and guidance. That is a trade up – by the way.
I want my children to understand that to obey God is the only kind of wealth worth seeking. I want them to understand that we live in a big world and that they have been chosen to be part of it’s salvation. I want them to see and know God and as a result of that knowledge to be able to join the revolution in telling others about a Love that is an answer to this culture’s bankruptcy. I want them to understand that even in the valley of death there is a provision that is eternal. Catherine Booth used to tuck her kids in bed and tell them, ‘You were born to change the world’. Now, that’s the ceremony that will ensure the best future of our children.