Okay, I'll admit it. Determining the best approach in parenting kids is like walking a tightrope. Not a job for the faint at heart.
In 2012, Nik Wallenda, the great grandson of the patriarch of history's most famous high-wire family walked a single cable across Niagara Falls. Incredible bravery.
A hopeless acrophobic—deathly afraid of heights—reading this account and watching the video many years ago gripped me in a way I can barely describe.
The job of a being a good and godly parent is no less perilous than this.
Connecting Our Children to God
In the Old Testament, priests were responsible to connect sinful people to a holy God like the lands on either side of the great Niagara. In the New Testament, once Jesus had accomplished His assignment, the need for a human mediator came to a screeching halt.
Because of what Jesus did, you and I have access—instant access— to God, our heavenly Father. This means that you and I as priests can approach God's throne as we are. And we can connect our children to Him as well.
In the Old Testament, the priest at home was the father. He conducted worship there. And then the apostle Peter declared that all believers are members of a special priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). So both mothers and dads can have the joy of leading their children to the throne of grace.
So here's the picture: Our homes are self-contained sanctuaries, and we're the priests. Although we don't actually erect steeples on top of our houses, we could. These are miniature temples. Each one. Can you imagine what fun it would be to fly over our neighborhoods and see every Christian home, complete with a white tower and cross on top?
When my now grown children were still living at home, having parents that took their job as priests seriously provided them with a great sense of security. Our home was not only a place where they felt safe, but it was a place where their friends were always welcomed. Like landing on the "safety square" on a board game, they were confident that there would be no harsh judgment when they brought their buddies home. This could have been the only chance these friends had to experience a Christian home, and we all knew it.
The purpose of reminding us of these important things is to underscore your primary responsibility in your Christian home. You're the parent. You're not a policeman, patrolling the family room, looking for a chance to issue a citation. You're not a hall monitor or a driving instructor . . . and you're not Santa Claus. You're not a boarder, coming and going at will. You're not a librarian, making certain that all desks are in straight rows and no one speaks above a whisper. And you're not an easy mark, acquiescing to your kids' every request.
You're the parent. And your job is to create a place—a happy and safe place—for your family . . . an atmosphere that assures everyone that they are really . . . home.
Little Cities of Refuge
Did you know that "safe places" are not a new idea?
Again, way back in the Old Testament as Moses was laying out the territories in Canaan, God instructed him to set aside cities for a special purpose:
"When someone goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down a tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he may flee to one of these cities and live, lest the avenger of blood in hot anger pursue the manslayer and overtake him" (Deut. 19:5–6).
Although you and your kids don't need protection from the long arm of the law, you do need somewhere to go that's out of harm's way. A home where there's safety in telling the truth and asking any question, where people are on your side, where you can make mistakes and still be fully embraced . . . a loving place, a safe place in your neighborhood.
In addition to the place where you regularly worship, your home is a house church. A sanctuary. A safe place outfitted with a priest. That would be you.
King David wrote, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust'" (Ps. 91:1–2).
Taking Moses' idea and running with it, David the shepherd announced that refuge—safety—was no longer a matter of geography. A Christian home is a safe place because God is there. He turns your home into a fortress. He makes it a safe place. He is your refuge. Your home, wherever it is, can be a place of refuge. A place where parents are commissioned and uniquely skilled at connecting their children to a holy God.
You're the parent. Your job is to create a place—a happy and safe place—for your family . . . an atmosphere that assures everyone that they are really . . . home.
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Adapted from The Most Important Place on Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One by Robert Wolgemuth.