Parents as Rock Stars or Radically New? (Philippians 3:7-8)
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ —Philippians 3:7-8
Have you ever wanted to be a rock star? When I was 15 years old that’s exactly what I wanted to be. I played drums and practiced hard until I became a rock star in my own mind. I enjoyed the applause that came along with that lofty pseudo-status. But when the gospel of Jesus rocked me into reality, I became radically new.
Paul (Saul) was a rock star in his own right: a rabbinical rock star. When you read Philippians 3:4-6, you can see why Paul had more reason for “confidence in the flesh” than anyone else. If anyone had reason to be self-assured because of the way things were in his physical world it was Paul. But when Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus, he became radically new.
Jesus blinded Paul with his glory and gave him new eyes to see that all his accomplishments in the flesh were worth less than nothing in comparison to knowing him. We can tend to think of the “flesh” as the bad stuff, like lustful desires. But in this case the flesh is not just the bad stuff. It is also the seemingly “good” stuff that is outside of Christ. So Paul pulled up a big bucket labeled “garbage.” And he threw everything that was outside of Christ into that bucket. Everything.
Can we fathom the idea that all of our parenting accomplishments in the flesh are worth less than nothing compared to knowing Christ? That’s hard for us to swallow. Truth be told, most of us have a little lingering desire to be rock stars. And this desire creeps into our parenting. If you are striving to be a good parent, that’s a good thing. But in your striving, what is the source of your confidence, your boasting, your joy?
Rock star parents put “confidence in the flesh.” They seek self-assurance from the way things are in their physical world. They feel good about themselves when they accomplish some parenting goal or fine tune some parenting skill. They gain bragging rights if things go well. When things don’t go well they are undone. Their joy level rises and falls with the applause at the end of the show. That’s an exhausting way to live.
Radically new parents seek to “worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus.” They have assurance because of the way things are in the spiritual world. The Holy Spirit is leading them to worship God and not their parenting prowess. They are living as the radically new people they are. They have confidence in their role as parents, not because of what they can do for their children but because of what Jesus has already done for them through His death and resurrection. Their identity is in Christ. Their boast is in Christ. Their joy is wrapped up in the all-surpassing worth of Christ. That’s a life of freedom and power.
Our children don’t need rock star parents. They need humble dads and moms who are radically new in Jesus. If you know Jesus in a saving way, that’s you. Isn’t that good news? Oh dear friend, may our communion with the risen Christ be so full that it overflows into every effort we make to parent our children and present them mature in him (Colossians 1:29).
In what ways does your joy level rise and fall with your seeming successes and failures as a parent?
How would the assurance of being radically new in Christ, and the experience of daily communion with Him, impact one area of struggle you are having as a parent right now?
If you are a grandparent, or serve as a “spiritual parent” to children, how might the reality of being radically new in Christ change the way you interact with the children you know and love the next time you see them?