Evangelicals & Progeny
I spend most of my television viewership watching either sports or crime dramas. I am known as the guy who watches “those killing shows” in my home. Aside from being appalled at the lack of virtues exhibited by many prosecuting district attorneys the other thing that sticks out is the number of parents who laments over the tragic death of their child. We really live in a fallen and depraved world so my heart goes out to any parent who loses a child.
Please do not get me wrong, it is clearly proper and to be expected that a parent would lament over the death of a child. As a father to three young adults I shudder to think about the pain I would feel if one of my children would perish BEFORE me. The issue for me is how these parents choose to express their lamentation. Often you hear the following expression, “So and so, was my world.” I find this expression theologically problematic and an indication there is likely some idol worshiping taking place, even if ever so subtle or unintended.
Again, I am the father of three young adult progenies: two girls and one son. I love them dearly and would give my life for them in a heartbeat if that ever became necessary. Yet, they have NEVER “been my world” in any shape, form or fashion nor do I anticipate they ever will be. I long for grand kids and they fall into the same category though I would spoil them to death.
This reluctant extends to anything or anyone. The only person or the only thing that would rise to this level of adoration would be Jesus Christ Himself and that is because that is His expectation, no, that is His demand. He says in Matthew 10:37, ” He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. “
I still can remember a deacon from a former church I served on the pastoral staff. He indicated the reason he did not choose to attend a very important week of prayer our church undertook because of some internal issues was because, “he had to spend time with his family.” He also used this as his reason he did not attend some of the church functions outside of the Sunday Morning Service.
Now, of course, time spent with one’s family is a crucially important component for any parent but when it is used as a basis for not engaging in the body life of their local church then something is terribly amiss.
There is a couple who frequently sits in front of me on Sunday mornings. I cannot but help and notice the interaction between the mother and her young son. She dots on him constantly during the service, even as the preacher is delivering the sermon.
While some will see this positively as a loving mother I only see a lack of affection and focus towards the only person who should demand her exclusive attention during worship: Jesus Christ. Similarly, I witness some of this same dynamics in couples during the worship time. I really do not care “how much” one might be in love worship time IS NOT the time to “coddle.”
I ask if Jesus Christ was literally present in a worship service, would anyone NOT be “laser-focused” on Him. Who would disagree? Well, that is exactly how we are supposed to live all of life as Evangelicals.
I delight in the accomplishments of my children and enthusiastically “share” their good news as most parents do. So, I understand the nuances of proud parenting and deep affections for one’s children but there is still a clear line between affection and idol worship.
It is almost impossible to clearly demarcate exactly where the line is but it is like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said, ” I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”
I, like Justice Stewart, shall not attempt further to define the kinds of material but I know when I see it. Tiara, Ricky Jr. and Constance are great joys I have been blessed to steward as their father. They have been used by God mightily to shape my character. They have provided great highs as well as great lows. They are not perfect nor idyllic. They are failed individuals through and through. This is not the musing of someone who does not love their children; no, this is only proper biblical anthropology. Even from the cradle my children were not “not little angels; they were vipers in diapers” as Voddie Beachum famously quotes.
So, in conclusion, you will NEVER hear me state that any earthly creature is “my world.” My family is of upmost import but they are temporal relations. They fall second in the order of merit, a distant second I might add. “My world” to whatever degree that is proper to say, is Jesus Christ. He is my all and all and the singular pursuit of my ultimate affections.
The great thing is when we make Christ first-most in our affections He graciously and lavishly give us more in return. He gives us family and friends in abundance and so much more. Even as we experience the loss of family members we learn to grieve not as people without hope and trust. Hope if they died in faith and trust if they did not because in Jesus Christ there is only yes and amen.
What do you think of my thesis? Is it proper to come to a point our world is shattered if one of our offspring(s) or any other were to perish, no matter how tragic or natural? What is your order of priority? Is God first, clearly and decisively? Or is He placed on a equal plane with something or someone else.
If it ever be determined that He is placed on a equal plane then you are serving an idol. It matters not if it be a loved one. Remember Matthew 10:37 as well as other places in the Holy Writ.
Let me know what you think by providing a commentary, whether you agree or not. Until then keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One!