Parenting the Enemy

In the passage Luke 6:27-36, Jesus tells the listeners to love and exactly what that love should look like. I don’t know about you, but I usually think of “enemies” as this distant “them,” nothing too close to home. Because really, that’s what I want to show the world–that my home is immaculate and my parenting infallible. I want to tell others about the crazy antics of my active boys or the darling pictures of them creating little craft projects or about how we have peaceful family meals at the dinner table every day.

I sometimes wish parenthood was as blissfully beautiful as we see portrayed. That all those posts of adorable anecdotes and perfect pictures really captured the true essence of motherhood. That every parent awoke to smiling cherub faces who gently called with angelic voices.

No, we wake up to screaming and pounding and tears more days than we care to admit. And don’t get me started on what sleep training does to that precious baby. And even if you do everything right as a parent, your child still comes with a free will. Maybe discord is the natural order of things for us humans (think Cain and Abel, Joseph and his brothers).

Even Jesus, quoting Old Testament Micah in Matthew 10, explains:

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

So we’re already enemies with members of our family because of our human propensity towards self love, but then it’s like Jesus says, “guess what everyone, this isn’t going to be easy. You know that family dysfunction you already had going on, well, I’m not here to tell your kids to mind or to play nice with their brother…” He does explain how we are to treat our enemies. And what if we look at Luke 6:27-36 as parenting tips, replacing the word “enemies” with “children”?

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your [children], do good to those who hate you,28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your [children], do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Well, then, maybe it doesn’t matter so much if he took the block from his brother…maybe what matters more is how we react to it. We teach him to how to submit to God to become clean instead of how to just look clean (Matthew 23:25-26).

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