Summary: God is keenly interested in children and in family life. God wants the family to be the true laboratory of life, where family members ... regardless of age ... live, learn, love and grow in the Christian graces.
The photo that was flashed across the country told the heartbreaking story of an American tragedy. A weary fireman held the limp, lifeless body of a little child. The little girl was killed in the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Her name was Baylee Almon, and she was only one year old. When the bomb exploded, she was with her playmates in the Child Care Center. The blast was so powerful it created a crater thirty feet in diameter.
This little child and so many others never had a chance. Her grieving mother, choked with tears, tried to speak, but the words were few and difficult.
You would think that even the most callous adult would be touched by the death of a child. It all seems so unfair when tragedy claims a child.
We see clearly God’s concern for children and families in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In that part of the letter known as the domestic code or household code (5:21-6:9), Paul gives specific instructions to children and to parents in 6:1-4. In doing so, he voices God’s affirmation of the family ... children as well as parents.
Make no mistake about it. God is keenly interested in children and in family life. God wants the family to be the true laboratory of life, where family members ... regardless of age ... live, learn, love and grow in the Christian graces.
For this to occur, we need to focus our attention on two primary relationships.
Children’s Commitment to Parents
Context of Paul’s statement: family
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord..." (6:1)
This very first sentence in the instructions to children and parents provides the context for Paul’s exhortation. "Children" and "parents" spell family. Paul is not addressing the church, the public school, or the private school. Rather, he directs his teaching to the home. The home is the primary area where key relationships are born and nurtured.
I often get the impression that some parents send their children to church or school simply to get rid of them. Not only do parents expect to have peace and quiet during this "release time," but they further expect the church and school to compensate for their own parental neglect in helping their children to grow.
I would venture to say that some of the strongest advocates of school prayer probably don’t promote and practice prayer in their home. If they did, they would realize that prayer is deeply personal and that you can pray silently at any time and any place without requiring a constitutional prayer amendment.
One student said,
"As long as we have final exams, we will always have prayer in school.
Focus on both parents
Paul does not limit his words in this passage to the father only. For those who feel that the male is the only spiritual leader in the family, hear what Paul is saying. He speaks of "parents" meaning mother and father (6:1). Both parents must assume responsibility for spiritual nurture of the children. One parent can do his or her best for the child and try to make up for the other’s lack, but one parent cannot provide all the child’s needs. Only joint cooperation and participation can adequately meet the demands of family life.