Parents often try to defend their childrearing deficiencies by protesting that their situations are unusually difficult or stressful. Parents, I believe you can relate to what I am saying. When you snap at the children, it is because “things are difficult at work.”
When you don’t have time to play with them, it is because you are worried about the bills and trying to sort out your financial difficulties. When you are irritated with them instead of patiently instructing them in God’s ways, it is because of relational pressures in your marriage that they just can’t understand. These are the kinds of “understandable” myths we tell ourselves to avoid our obligation to trust Christ in our parenting.
The attractive route is to excuse ourselves because after all, we are only human–we can only do so much. A mechanism such as this seems to work until we come to face to face with the example and life of Christ. Jesus loves us–he cares for us. During the resurrection season, this reality is on vivid display. Because of our familiarity with the Easter story, the drama of Jesus’ human faithfulness is easily lost. Parenting is a draining and demanding responsibility. It requires more than we can imagine. However, Christ has more love and power available to us than we can ever conceive. When we are confronted by our weaknesses, we must do more than agree with the complaints of our flesh. Think with me about Christ’s service to his disciples on the night of his betrayal. He knew that he would be betrayed. He knew he would be humiliated in a by the Jews in a trial. He knew he would face the cruel pain of the cross. And most significantly, he knew he would face the full wrath of his Father poured out upon him. And yet, just hours from these events unfolding, Jesus gives himself in loving service to his disciples:
It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love (John 13:1).
He ate the Passover meal with his disciples. Then he washed their feet in an act of love and devotion. He loved them and cared for them. He did all of this with the reality of the betrayal, the trial and the crucifixion just hours away. He was not short or irritable or “stressed”. He was focused on serving his Father and loving his brothers. This is the context in which to understand Christ’s words later on in this chapter:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (34-35).
So when you feel “stressed,” Christ is your example. When you become irritable and are tempted to snap at your children’s bad behavior, Christ is your example. Christ’s resurrection means that you have the hope and power to be a parent who honors God. You do not have to be a slave to the sinful defense mechanisms of your flesh. Rather, through his resurrection power you can present the extraordinary power of Christ to your children.