>> Monday, March 19, 2012 – evangelizing, faults, forgiveness, God talk: talking to kids about God, grace, New Testament, parenting, Use It on Monday
Rowan dropped the sugar bowl yesterday morning about 15 minutes before we left for church. The full-to-the-brim sugar bowl. As he kneeled on the counter to reach for the box of Life, he knocked the covered bowl from the shelf. It bounced off the counter, hit the floor, broke into 9 pieces and spread a swath of sugar halfway across the parquet. Then he burst into tears, because he knew what I was going to say. He knew because I tell him nearly every day: “Don’t kneel on the counters. If you need to get something use the stool or ask me.”
“I’m sorry,” he squeaked, his face scrunched scarlet, tears rolling down his cheeks as I flung open the cabinet to grab the dustpan and broom. “Are you mad?” he asked, as I tossed ceramic shards into the trash and shook sugar granules from the bills strewn across the counter.“I’m highly irritated, highly irritated,” I muttered, teeth clenched as I brushed the grit from the bottom of one bare foot and then the other over the open trashcan. “Highly, highly irritated.”
Forty-five minutes later I saw in the pew as Pastor Greg preached on Acts 1:1-11, which includes these verses about being God’s witnesses:
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).I admit, I felt pretty good about myself when I read that verse: “Hey, I’m a blogger; I write every day about God and faith. I write a newspaper column about faith. That’s witnessing, right? I’ve totally got that one covered.”
That is, until Pastor Greg mentioned that our first priority as Christians is to witness to those closest to us. Oikos, he called it, the Greek word for “household evangelism”:“Witness starts in your smallest circle of family and friends, with the people in your own home and those closest to you. And then it ripples out from there.”
That’s when I remembered the sugar bowl.Why, I wondered as I sat in the pew with my arms crossed over my chest, am I much more willing to offer grace and forgiveness to acquaintances and even strangers than I am to my own family members – my own children and my husband?
Why is it so easy for me to let a stranger off the hook and not my own child?
What kind of message about love, forgiveness and grace do I send when I don’t willingly accept my child’s sincere apology?
What kind of oikos is that?
What if a co-worker or a neighbor had knocked that sugar bowl onto my counter and strewn sugar across my kitchen floor? Would I have muttered, “Highly irritated, highly irritated,” through clenched teeth while I cleaned up the mess? Would I have ignored her apology? Would I have turned my back when she expressed her sorrow and remorse?Of course not. “Oh no, no, don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it all,” I would have consoled. “It’s fine. It’s just sugar; it cleans up easily. No problem at all,” I would have said.
I would have handed out the grace card without a second thought, the grace I didn't offer my own child.
Yesterday morning I missed an opportunity to react as Jesus would have. I missed an opportunity to demonstrate love and forgiveness and to teach a lesson with kindness.
Yesterday morning as the sugar bowl lay in fragments and my son cried tears of regret and remorse, I missed the very best opportunity to serve as God’s witness, right in the middle of my own kitchen.
What about you? Are you more willing to grant grace to strangers than you are to those in your inner circle? And if yes, why do you think that's so?
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