Good Parenting

1 Peter 2.2-10

Tomorrow is my and Erica’s eighteen-year anniversary. I don’t say that for self-promotion. I say it because this week, as I was working on the sermon, I found myself continually distracted as to what we as a couple should do (dinner, hike, something) rather than writing this message.

The passage was hard to work with…I get it theologically in my head, but I wasn’t really feeling it. And when you’re not feeling something it is really hard to pay attention to the message that is trying to break through. (Like right now….)

Anyway, as another day went by and I continued to wrestle with both my relationship plans and my message plans, something dawned on me. Look at some of the imagery used in this passage: the part about babies.

God knows that we aren’t too bright—even if you have rocket scientist intelligence (remember the dumb donkey from last week). And being gracious, He communicates to us in ways that we can understand…or at least can try to understand. That way is through images. Do you remember the image he spoke of to the wise Nicodemus? A baby! “You must be birthed anew!”

In this passage we see the baby imagery again, but this time the baby is drinking, craving, this spiritual milk and growing. Who do you think the Parent in this image is? God! (I hope that was an easy answer!)

Peter is challenging, but in an encouraging way (exhorting), the Christians of the world to see themselves as babies. And babies are hungry! My goodness, for those mothers out there, do you remember how hungry your kids were when they were little? It was like it never stopped! And if there were times when your son or daughter was not eating…what is wrong? Is my baby sick?

Peter is saying that we, Christians, are to be hungry for the things of God! Yahweh is our food, our warmth, our caregiver, our protecter, our nurturer. Yahweh is Mother. God has given birth to us, sustaining us, and nurturing us to maturity. We are the Children of God.

Another aspect of parenting that goes along with this image and the reason of Peter’s writing it is that, as our Parent, God desires the very best for us. Parents, do you remember how you worked and fussed and gussed over your children? I remember the first time I had Aeden in the car with me when we were bringing him home. I drove crazy cautiously. In an instant the world changed—I looked around and saw dangers and threats everywhere. Being a parent means being zealous in pursuing the best for your children.

God is zealously pursuing the best for us…raising us to maturity. So…let me ask this of you: as a parent who wants the best for your child, do you also have expectations of that child? Of course you do! You don’t feed, clothe, educate, and protect a child without having expectations.

There are good expectations and then there are other expectations. Good expectations honor a child’s maturing ability for making their own choices and bad expectations are those that demand a child simply obey what the parent has decreed.

What do I mean? A parent ought to expect the best of their child…that their child makes their own decisions that will be in the child’s best interest.  When a child does a good thing for a good reason on their own…how proud does that make you feel? Pretty stinking proud. When a child does a good thing because they are afraid of you or because they think they’ll get some sort of reward…good behavior doesn’t mean a good heart. God expects His Children to do good things because they love to do good things.

Any Moms and Dads here think their kids are special? You better! Thinking your child is special doesn’t mean that you think he/she is better than others. It means that your child has a unique, tender place in your heart…you love your kid. Here we see God calling you and I, His Kids, special—you are my “special possession”!

How are we God’s special possession? Look at the titles God gives you, His Church: a Chosen People, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation, and a Special Possession. But we, the Church, are not God’s flesh and blood. No, The Father has only one Son…Jesus. We are adopted sons and daughters. But as Peter says, “once you were not a people (illegitimate, really), but now you are God’s people”…that’s some good people.

I want to take one last look at the parent-child imagery and the lesson we can take away from it. After all these titles are given (and those, Friends, are the titles that were also given to Israel), do you see what our Parent expects us to do with them? We have been adopted into God’s family that we might praise His Name and work. We have been given the family name in order to praise our Loving Father.

When I came to this place in the message, I thought what better place to end than here. It is an affirmation that God is working to raise His Children, His Church up in the right way. We know His Love, firsthand. He expects us to bring honor the family name by loving others and doing good for the joy and peace of it. Father, we praise your name! Amen.