Summary: God has given each of us the opportunity, the freedom to choose for ourselves so he could have a genuine relationship with us.
Well… I have to confess that for some time now, I have been harboring a deep-rooted fear. It began several years ago as a 22 year old Summer Youth Worker. Our pastor had left; we were in an interim period, and it looked as if I might have to step in and preach on Father’s Day. But you know you can’t preach Father’s Day sermon without first being a father. Fortunately, an interim pastor arrived on the scene just in time. Move ahead two years. Another church; another pastor gone; another interim period. (I’m starting to get self-conscious about that); Father’s Day was approaching; and again, I was saved in just the last moment.
But this year, I need not run from the opportunity to preach my first Father’s Day sermon, for now, I come prepared having not just one child in the family, but two! Whew! I’m qualified. But that’s where my latest concern comes in. Here I’ve been a father to at least one child for almost two years now. And the truth is, I still have no cotton pickin’ idea what the heck I’m doing… I feel that I should be the expert father. I should be able to stand up with authority and preach one of those 12 step sermons. You know the kind I’m talking about. Twelve steps to raising perfect children, but, I’m not sure if it really works that way. Because you know... just having children does not a perfect father make…
In fact, I remember feeling the cold sweat running down my face just after Connor was born. I have to admit to being a little scared. I mean, he seemed innocent and all. He looked like a little angel. But as so many of you have been so kind as to inform me, little angels can sometimes grow up to be little devils. I’ve heard it… you invest all your time and money in your children only for them to grow up to hate you. You feed them, clothe them, and clean then up when they are messy, only to wonder if when you are old one day if they will feed you, clothe you, and clean you up.
It got me to thinking. I mean, Connor was a good-looking promising boy, but then that’s what Ted Bundy’s mom thought too. And Connor seemed like a nice name. A boy named Connor would have to turn out right, but I’m sure the name Charles Manson sounded innocent once too. You know the bottom line: you can give and give and give, but you never really know how your kids are going to turn out. They may just turn out to be a bad apple. And then, bad apples spoil the whole bunch.
And if they do turn out bad, you know you’ve failed as a parent. After all, a bad child is a result of bad parenting, is it not! How many times have you been in a restaurant when some child was screaming and hollering all through the meal, and what did you say? Same thing I do. Ooooh, those parents! Just give me that child for one week, and I’ll straighten him out!!!
With all this pressure out there to produce perfect children, wouldn’t it be nice to find in the Scriptures a guarantee that if you follow certain principles, your kids will turn out right. But the Scriptures don’t make that promise. There are no guarantees for success. In fact, what we find in the Bible is that even God has problems rearing good kids.
Just look at God’s first children, Adam and Eve. Not long into life, Adam and Eve disobey their Father’s command to eat only of the tree of life and thus stay away from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Don’t touch, God says. But then they start running with bad company. We parents are paranoid about bad company, and Adam and Eve sure found a doozy of bad company, Satan the serpent. Not much time passes before we find the two children, in the garden, eating apples, enjoying themselves like two kids with their hands in the cookie jar when mommy and daddy aren’t looking. Adam and Eve are the classic model of undisciplined children. The passage we read picks up the story when God walks in. In walks dad; they play dumb, like they’ve done nothing wrong. And when that doesn’t work, they start pointing at each other. What parent hasn’t heard that before? Eve made me do it. By eating the bad apple, they end up bad apples themselves.
So, where’s mom and dad while all of this is going on? After all, a bad child is the result of bad parenting, and bad apples don’t fall far from the tree. So then, who’s really to blame for Adam and Eve’s behavior? If we are going to hold hard and fast to the idea that bad children are the result of bad parenting, then it looks like we might ought to point a finger at the Father of Adam and Eve.