For pt. 1 of this series either scroll down or follow link http://wp.me/pR92x-1E . Pt. 2 - The heart and the church
It doesn't take long for parents to realize that they can't do this whole parenting thing alone. They need help. Not only with their own hearts, but with the hearts of their kids as well. We were not designed to do anything in this life apart from community. This is the way God created us, for community. More on that in a while, the foundation for the necessity of this needs, to be laid out first.
So what role does the church play in the hearts of children? The Bible has a lot to say about how we should (and shouldn't) treat one another. Why deal with all the "one another" passages? Because they speak to the attitude of the heart.
Starting with the list of what NOT to do towards one another. Why? Because this is where our sinful nature naturally takes us. This is how we are prone to react towards each other. (Just like the last post, the following list of characteristics with the number of times it appears in the ESV in parenthesis.) Here is what NOT to do towards one another: - Lie (2) - Wrong (2) - devise Evil - Betray - Judge - be Conceited - Provoke - Envy - Speak Evil - Grumble This list is the one that needs to be avoided, by both the individual and the church as a whole (corporate).
If God has His hold on our heart, how are we supposed to act towards one another? We have a huge responsibility towards one another. We are to: - Love (18) - bear Burdens (3) - Share (2) - Live in Harmony (2) - Serve (2) - Forgive (2) - Encourage (2) - Seek God / the Lord (2) - Speak the fear of the Lord - Welcome - Instruct / Teach / Admonish - Care for - Comfort - Agree - be Kind - Submit - Exhort - Confess sins - show Hospitality - offer Fellowship That is a long list! Plenty to keep us busy and focused on the right things.
But why do parents and the church need to work together? Why shouldn't parents raise their kids on their own? It's not the way God, the Creator of the universe, designed it to work. God's plan is for iron to sharpen iron. We do that by looking out for the interests of others. We accomplish this by sharing with those in need. We see it in action as we stir one another towards love and good deeds. We hold each other accountable as we confess our sins to each other. If we think about the sowing and reaping analogy that is throughout the New Testament, different people have different gifts. When those gifts are brought together, it creates ... COMMUNITY!
I like to think of community as a "beautiful mess." On the one hand, it's beautiful because this is how God is (trinity). It's also beautiful because this is how He designed it work. When true community happens, lives are changed! Within the boundaries of true community growth happens. We learn together how to interact with God and with each other. That's beautiful! On the other hand, though, it's a mess. It's a mess because sin is still involved. Our pride and idolatry of self get in the way of the blessing that community offers.
It's true, community as described above can be risky. It involves you being transparent, honest, and vulnerable. You don't know what others are going to do with the information you share. The risk is why we sometimes wear masks. We don't want anyone else to see the real (messed up) us. We falsely think we are the only ones dealing with a specific problem, and this problem has never been seen before. But that is a lie! A lie the devil tells us so we keep everything private and internal. The beauty of community is that we are all in the same boat. We have sin that we have to deal with, but we don't have to do it alone. The heart of God wants us to share our struggles with Him and with each other. The rewards far out weigh the risks.
When we hold on to our struggles and internalize our pain, we rob each other of the blessing it is to serve. It is an honor and blessing for the people of God to give what God has given them, in terms of knowledge and wisdom, to each other. Don't rob them of the joy of giving, or the blessing of receiving that gift.
God designed us to work in community with each other. Parents have an untapped resource in the church, and the church has untapped wisdom for parents. There is double blessing when these things are brought together.
This concludes post #2. Post #3 will deal with the heart of God. What His heart looks like, what it does, and how it operates.