Even the world wants children who obey and do what they are told. But the apostle Paul says that simply coming when called is not enough. Paul says children are to come when called, in the Lord, that is in the power of God. That is radical. It means your parenting may not be evaluated only on how quickly and how correctly your children respond to your directions. Your parenting must lead your children to do these things in the Lord, otherwise they are not doing right at all. Here is what Paul says:
Children obey your parents in the Lord. Ephesians 6:1
What is so radical about that, you may ask? The radical part is the last three words: in the Lord.
As you think about this directive, it is overwhelming. Ephesians 6:1 appears to be such a simple verse. But when the last three words are the focus, the verse becomes a radical challenge to every accepted parenting practice in the culture around you. The world will focus on outward behavior. But if that is all that happens—outward, quickly-responsive behavior—then it is not only lacking, it is wrong. It is wrong because it is not done in the Lord.
If we go back to the end of chapter three in Ephesians, Paul provides encouragement to follow through with the radical, practical nature of daily Christian living. In Ephesians 3:20, he says that God is able to do immeasurably more than we would dare imagine:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.
The Holy Spirit knew that we can become easily discouraged living at cross purposes to the culture as Christian parents. I believe Paul placed these particular words of encouragement right before he begins the application portion of Ephesians precisely because he does not want you to lose hope. He offers his power as we follow him! We need this encouragement or we would give up in despair.
In Ephesians 4-6, Paul lays out the radical path of living for Christ, both for the Ephesians and for us in the 21st century. Children obey your parents in the Lord is just as radical a directive as “wives be submissive to your husband as to the Lord” and as “husbands love your wives as Christ loves his church.”
This is more than we can handle in our own strength! But Paul says that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. In terms of parenting, he wants
us to ask for more than children who come quickly when they are called. He wants us to know his power. He wants us to teach our children to come quickly because they want to honor God. This is the essence of biblical parenting. It is all about the gospel! God is able to answer your prayer … and immeasurably more!