Ran a few errands with my oldest child--the one who is almost a quarter century-- this afternoon. For her willingness to come with me, I offered to buy her a drink, which she said she wouldn't pass up...then did, when we couldn't decide whether caffeine or carbonation was more in order. So we just came on home to discover the dogs had eaten the delicious red velvet cupcakes E'd made last weekend.
Anyway, usually when I go anywhere with a member of my family, I am the passenger in the vehicle. Almost two decades I drove them around like it was my job, carted them to and from school, to and from this event, that practice, this play-date, that game. The other day my eye-doctor asked if we'd homeschooled our kids, and I told him, "No, but that doesn't mean I didn't do plenty of teaching. Every time they buckled up their seat-belts, we started in on some kind of learning." It's true. In fact, I've always felt annoyed that our culture seems to the only parents who teach their kids are the ones that don't send them off to a school. I can guarantee that most parents--at least the best of them--spend a whole lot of time teaching their children. How to tie shoes, how to write their names, how to read, how to behave with others, what respect means and why it's important. I absolutely believe that my car was my classroom with my chublets for many, many years. I liked being the one to pick my kids up from events, because that was when the floodgates were open, when they spilled all the thoughts and feelings and ideas of their day. It was when I had their undivided attention, when they could ask the questions burning in them that their school teachers didn't explain. Or even explain things they'd heard on the playground.
I didn't say all this to the eye-doctor. However I did tell him that Beve and I had always wanted our kids to be engaged in the world around them, agents of change and good, agents of the Kingdom among their peers. This can't happen where kids--where whole families--are never around people different than themselves. I remember thinking that I didn't want my kids to be like other Christians, I wanted them to be like Christ.
I still want that. For them and for me. The world is full of Christians who are small-minded, so afraid of what the world might do to them or theirs that they close themselves off from anyone unlike themselves. They forget that 'greater is He who is in [us] than He who is in the world.' Judgment and rules govern their lives. And it seems to me that this is the worst face we can turn to the other inhabitants of this planet. It certainly isn't very much like the Man from Galilee who ate with sinners, healed on the Sabbath, wrecked havoc on the Temple. This Son of Man was moved by the plight of those around Him. I don't know what He'd say about the disenfranchised of our day--homosexuals, for example--but I do know He'd say it with love. Always, first with love. He kept His anger for the religious, and His annoyance for His own disciples. Those who were not, He treated with compassion and love.
I want my children to be Gospel-loving, Jesus-emulating Christians. I hope that this is what Beve and I taught them in all those car rides, around our dinner table, as we prayed beside their beds at night. I want my children to be schooled in the best that He has to offer this world--faithful, hopeful, but above all, loving.