Will the real Chapter 1 please stand up?
In Chapter One Fitzpatrick identifies the distinct types of obedience we teach our children:
Initial Obedience: Simply responding to a parent's immediate command.
Social Obedience: Respecting cultural norms and practicing good manners.
Civic Obedience: Following the laws of government.
Religious Obedience: What we teach our children to do as part of a life of faith before they come to faith. (ie. tithing, conduct in worship gatherings and prayer time.)
She esteems that it is good and right for a parent to teach these types of obedience, but she also warns sternly on how we teach these things. "None of these levels of obedience... can earn approval from God. In fact, each of these different forms of obedience may actually blind a compliant child to his need for a Savior. But that's where the law of God comes in."
"Even though our children cannot and will not obey God's law, we need to teach it to them again and again. And when they tell us that they can't love God or others in this way, we are not to argue with them. We are to agree with them and tell them of their need for a Savior."As a parent, what she says next rang so true for me. From a generation that spouted, "If it is to be, it's up to me!" I struggle with admitting that there is anything that I cannot do if I simply apply myself. We claim the verse, "I can do all things" and forget about the last part. She goes on to say,
"The law of God also hinders our advance toward righteousness because, in our pride, we think that if we just try hard enough or repent deeply enough, we'll be able to obey it. We read the promises of life for obedience and think that means we can do it. The promises of life for obedience are not meant to build our self-confidence. They're meant to make us long for obedience and then, when we fail again , they're meant to crush us and drive us to Christ."She continues to discuss how the law is meant to crush our children, so they will see their need for a savior. I agree with this and teach the children this way. These years with young ones, we are strong advocators of the law. The law is huge for us in the years of the "littles" because we hope that soon they will understand that no one can obey the law and that they need a Savior. We hope for the day they lose hope in themselves and find hope in Jesus. But the entire process of this, I will admit, is painful and harrowing, but absolutely necessary for our children to experience true joy in their God, for them to have any sense of identity, for them to have any lasting hope in this life on earth.
No parent wants to hear the diagnoses that their child has a terminal disease. The message trembles in my bones, the message that my children are enslaved to death. No parent wants to hear that their child is in a hopeless state. But there IS HOPE!
Just as Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!"
Very excited about the next chapter!