Being a parent forces us to evaluate our own lives, and the impact on a small person. Are they flourishing where we live? Is it safe? Have we got support? How do we stay connected to family overseas? These questions often circulate through my mind. Craig Greenfield articulates in his book Subversive Jesus the experience I want for our children:
“But we want them to grow up in a family where Jesus and his subversive kingdom come first – before comfort, before affluence, and even, if necessary, before safety. We’re not raising them to be quiet subjects of the empire.”
There is a temptation to wrap our children up in our worldview and not let any of the darkness in our world near them. I’ve frustratingly heard it said to new Christian parents that their children are now their main ministry. How we raise our children is so important but they are also watching how we live out our faith. If all our faith shows is going to a church service on a Sunday then it’s not a surprise that young people are leaving the established church in high numbers.
“Young people are willing to give their lives for a vision. The only question is, are we giving them something that is worth laying down their lives for?”
Of course we don’t have it completely sussed, we are learning to balance family and community life. Debbie has previously written about this. But our hope is that our Wee Man sees how the light of Jesus pushes back the darkness and how he can be part of it.
We are sometimes asked if we want any more children. I respond with the well thought through plan I have much to Debbie’s amusement. One part of the plan is the hope to have room in our family for others.
Family is important and broad in the culture here in Soshanguve. I’m referred to as Uncle Paul by the young people here. Our landlady treats us as her children and I will respectfully greet an older man as Ntate (Father).
We are made for community. So how can we make our view of family wider and more inclusive? How can we support the single mothers, the isolated elderly, and the neglected children in our neighbourhood?
Craig discusses the theology behind Jesus’ view of family and summarises by stating that “Jesus is saying, “For my sake, and the sake of the good news of the kingdom, give up your tight grasp on your family and possessions. I have so much more for you. A hundred times more.” This call invites us to dismantle the fences we have erected around family, tribe, and nation so that God can expand our vision until we see everyone as part of the extended family of God.”
May you know that you are part of God’s vast and wide family and that he loves you through and through. May you have the courage to expand your view of family and to encourage our children and young people to be bringers of light to our world.
This is part of a series reflecting on the book Subversive Jesus by Craig Greenfield.