What cause or product or person are you a champion for? I have various friends online that champion various causes or beliefs in the large majority of their posts. Some are constantly posting about things like Calvinism, KJV-onlyism, biblical feminism, cessationism, continuationism, and other aspects of Christian belief. Some of these I heartily agree with, and some I don’t agree with at all – but it is clear that those who post and talk about these various aspects are “all in,” they are champions for their particular cause or belief aspect.
I have other friends who are champions for things like essential oils, various wrapping things (that actually work, if I’m being informed correctly) different nutritional beverages, shakes and shakeologies, something called “Crossfit,” which I’m not sure is a Christian thing or not, but apparently makes you look quite svelte, various other nutritional things, and such. They are champions for those products and ideals. I do not begrudge that, nor am I casting aspersions their way – just pointing out that the vast majority of us champion some cause or some person.
As for me? Well, I post about my website a lot because I’m looking to become a semi-professional writer. I suppose that makes me a champion for….myself? That sounds quite embarrassingly narcissistic, so let’s move on, shall we?
What about you, dear reader? What are YOU a champion for? Is it Home-schooling? Is it public schooling? Christian/private/charter schools? Is it organic foods? Breast feeding? Natural birth? A particular politician? Cereal? A third party candidate? A football team? Vaccinations…or non-vaccinations? What is YOUR thing that you are eager to talk about – eager to persuade people on? YOUR soapbox issue? Whatever it is – if you have such a thing, I would ask you to consider that you are a champion for that thing.
I had an Epiphany this past week – I’m running out of time with our older children. Our oldest daughter (of 5 total kids) is almost 16. It’s incredible how fast that has happened – I still vividly remember cooking steak for my wife as a college student, and getting down on my knee and asking her to marry me. Now, twenty incredibly fast years later, we are about to have a college student. When you’re a dad and your daughters get older – they don’t often come and sit in your lap anymore. They act a little weird when you try to give them affection, and they become a little more stand-offish. Because of that, for about a year, I just gave them room, and tried not to be overbearing, awkward, or uncool – I backed off. I even stopped going into their room at night to pray for them.
Thanks to a good friend of mine, Jennifer, and multiple clear leadings of the Holy Spirit, I realized my mistake. Jennifer, now the mom of five kids also, told me that when she became a teenager, her father completely backed off from showing her affection and obvious love. She said that it was one of the most harmful things that has ever happened in her life, and it, at least partly, led her to search for affection and affirmation from other guys in fairly destructive ways.
My teenage daughters don’t need me to act like an awkward weirdo, they don’t need me to treat them like they are still five…but they do need their daddy. They need my OBVIOUS affection – even when they wince a little from it – and, like me, they need Jesus. Boy, do they ever need Jesus.
Which brings me back to my first question….What are you a champion for? Let me ask it in a more pointed way: What are you an EVANGELIST for?
Moms and Dads – your kids need Jesus. You can discipline them, and you should. You can teach them, and you should. You can train them, and you should. You can educate them, and you should. However, YOU CANNOT CHANGE THEM. YOU CANNOT SAVE THEM. They need Jesus. Are you, in their eyes, primarily a champion of Jesus? ARE YOU, IN THEIR EYES, PRIMARILY AN EVANGELIST TO THEM OF JESUS?! Do they hear you, day by day, lovingly proclaim to them the good news of Jesus? Do they see how the Gospel sustains your own life when you go through trials of every kind?
Day in, day out, our kids need Jesus desperately. As toddlers, as tweens, as teens and as adults – they need to be constantly seeing us as parents pointing them to Jesus.
Consider this passage from Corinthians as a parenting passage: 1 Corinthians 1:20 Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? 21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached. 22 For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.
Paul’s message always pointed back to Jesus, and to Him crucified and raised from the dead victorious. To the Jews who were always looking for miracles, the idea of a messiah/hero who could suffer and die was foreign to them (even though Isaiah and the other prophets had clearly stated that the messiah would be a suffering messiah.) To the Greeks, who valued worldly wisdom and philosophy above all, the crucifixion of Jesus made little sense. To scientific focused Americans, it might also be a puzzling thing, but the message of Jesus crucified for our sins and raised to life by His Father is both the power of God AND the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:24)
As normal readers of this site will likely know, Charles Spurgeon is one of my heroes. Below are three amazing quotes from him that exhort and encourage preachers to ALWAYS preach about Jesus. Please allow me to use these three quotes of Spurgeon as PARENTING exhortations also. That they would urge us parents on towards always pointing our kids towards Jesus in our teaching:
- “The motto of all true servants of God must be, ‘We preach Christ; and him crucified.’ A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.” Spurgeon sermon, 1876
- “Leave Christ out of the preaching and you shall do nothing. Only advertise it all over London, Mr. Baker, that you are making bread without flour; put it in every paper, ‘Bread without flour’ and you may soon shut up your shop, for your customers will hurry off to other tradesmen. … A sermon without Christ as its beginning, middle, and end is a mistake in conception and a crime in execution. However grand the language it will be merely much-ado-about-nothing if Christ be not there. And I mean by Christ not merely his example and the ethical precepts of his teaching, but his atoning blood, his wondrous satisfaction made for human sin, and the grand doctrine of ‘believe and live.’” Spurgeon preaching in 1881
- “Christ not only supplies the necessities of his people, but he gives them abundant and superabundant joy in the luxuries of his grace. You do not really preach the gospel if you leave Christ out; if he be omitted, it is not the gospel. You may invite men to listen to your message, but you are only inviting them to gaze upon an empty table unless Christ is the very center and substance of all that you set before them.” Spurgeon preaching in 1878
Let’s smash these three together into one Spurgeonesque parenting exhortation: No Christ in your parenting, ma’am, sir? Then scrap it all and start over again – with Christ as the keystone and the foundation. Parenting without Jesus in its beginning, middle and end is a mistake in conception and a crime in execution…it is much ado about nothing. You are not really engaging in Christian parenting if you leave Christ out. You are not raising Christian children if all you’re giving them is rules and morals. If Jesus (and Him crucified) is omitted from your parenting, then you are merely setting before your children an empty table, and bidding them to eat. The good news of Jesus must be the centerpiece and the substance of all that you present to your children.
Allow me to close with this excellent word from the writer of Hebrews: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) Moms and dads – we must be about the business of teaching our children to fix their eyes on Jesus AND demonstrating before them a life that clearly shows us fixing our eyes on Jesus. He is their great hope and salvation.