Against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent years I’ve ever experienced, I’ve asked myself this singular question many times: What can I do to make a difference? Perhaps you’ve asked yourself this same question amidst all the white (and black) noise in our culture…What can I do to make a difference? It’s a good question. It deserves a good answer.
Indeed, the turbulence of 2020 is one for the books: a presidential impeachment, a global pandemic, an economic recession, and (now) nationwide unrest. Are we headed towards a full-blown Civil War? It seems to me that the presidential election in 2020 holds for us a powder keg of emotions ready to explode. I could be wrong, and I hope I’m wrong, but our nation is truly fragile right now. As the people of God, we will certainly keep trusting the Lord, fighting for justice, and praying for law and order, but these are certainly some tense and terrible days to be living through.
But again, as I ponder the days that God has allotted for us, I ask myself: Can I really make a difference in this multi-layered, highly nuanced, and increasingly disturbing situation? I mean, what can I really do? Just pray more? Listen to more of my friends of color and their thoughts, feelings, and opinions? Perhaps participate in a march myself? Maybe all these things are good and necessary, but I am convinced that more and better parenting is an absolute must. More and better parenting? Doesn’t that seem random and boring in terms of an effective solution?
I think not…Here’s what initially primed my thinking…
John MacArthur (Pastor, Author, and Bible Teacher at Grace To You) recently suggested four layers of accountability and discipline that are absolutely vital to a thriving society (and civilization as a whole): conscience, family (specifically, one’s parents), the government, and the Church. MacArthur suggests that in recent decades, the conscience of the American people has been seared shut; and the family has altogether been attacked and decimated (look at how many absentee fathers plague our family units today, along with the rise of homosexuality and transgenderism). Now, in recent weeks, that third layer of accountability and discipline is being severely attacked, namely, our government and those who have sworn to protect us and serve us. Oh, how we need to pray that justice prevails along with law and order! But if this third layer of accountability and discipline falls, what’s next? That’s right, the Church. And when the Church can no longer do an effective job of restraining evil, that’s when God Himself will snatch the Church out of this world. That’s when full blown Satanic insanity will erupt as the Chief Restrainer (i.e. the Holy Spirit) is completely removed from the presence and psyche of this world.
So, as I’ve digested content from people like John MacArthur, as well as other theological, political, sociological, and cultural resources (from articles to blogs to videos), I again ask myself: What can I do? Again, I think more and better parenting is one vital piece to moving forward, as Christians, in an increasingly decaying culture. It’s by no means the silver bullet, but more and better parenting is a huge piece in us moving forward in an honest, healthy, and holistic fashion. Yes, we as parents, and especially us fathers, need to stand up and speak up, to our children, in our own homes. We need to hold them accountable and discipline them in the way of truth, justice, and beauty.
Indeed, my wife and I are in the process of adoption. We will most likely adopt a bi-racial or black infant. That’s just the way most adoption cases work. We cannot wait to bring our son or daughter home, no matter how much melanin they have in their skin! And what rejoicing will come to our home on the day we bring our adopted child home…So, all that to say, here is what I plan to teach my four bi-racial, white, and/or black sons and daughters…Yes, here is how I plan to stand up and speak up, by God’s grace, in my own home…
Dear Sons…Dear Daughters…
May you always know and live in light of these six wonderful realities…
- God created you and loves you. Indeed, your skin color (no matter what it is – white, brown, black, or mixed) was knitted into you by a Master Artist who made you “fearfully and wonderfully” (Psalm 139:14). Furthermore, this Master Artist loves you with a fierce love and proved His love for you by sending His Son, Jesus, to die in your place and for your sins (Romans 5:8). You are loved by your Mommy and Daddy, but God loves you more.
- The Bible gives to us objective truth. You never have to doubt who you really are and how much you are really worth because the Bible gives to you plain and powerful objective truth (Gen. 1:27). Indeed, you never have to worry if the Bible is going to lead you astray into false narratives or fake news because God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). Yes, you can always count on the Bible, God’s Holy Word, to give you light and life (Psalm 119).
- America is not perfect, but we are blessed to live in the U.S.A. This country of ours is something I love, and you should love it too (James 1:17). Indeed, America is not our final home, and our ultimate citizenship lies in Heaven (Philippians 3:20-21), but to love this country is not wrong and no one should ever make you feel ashamed for loving the red, white, and blue. Yes, do your part to strengthen the areas of our country that need fixing, but always thank God for this land of the free because of the brave (Psalm 113).
- People are crazy, but we love them anyways. Hate is a powerful reality in our world (1 John 3:11-18). But so is love (1 John 5:1-5)! Let’s choose to love the difficult, the uniformed, the rebellious, the hypocritical, and the downright hurtful people in our lives. Why? Because that’s what Jesus did…and does (Matt. 5:43-48).
- The Church is God’s plan A to reach the world with hope and healing despite so much sin and suffering. Indeed, the Church can be so broken and messed up, but God is using the Church despite all that we are and all that we are not (Ephesians 3:10). So, let’s be a family that stays on mission (Matthew 28:18-20). “Won’t it be hard? Won’t it be difficult?”, you ask. Certainly, but God made a promise that His purposes will prevail in and through the Church, no matter how broken or attacked it becomes (Matthew 16:18).
- This world is not it, there’s an eternity that awaits us. We can be a family that fights for justice, helps the poor, and ministers to the marginalized of society, and yet the world gets worse and worse, and we suffer persecution. And that’s more than OK. Why? Because “this world is not our home, we’re just a passing through…” Indeed, God has imprinted the idea of eternity onto our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Furthermore, He’s guaranteed a perfection of peace in eternity for all who trust in Jesus. “Will you believe?” (John 11:25-27).
With All My Love (An Imperfect, Incomplete Love For Sure) But With All The Love I Can Muster,