But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ~Ephesians 2:4-7
Never do I see God’s unmerited grace and deep love more clearly than when I am knee deep in disciplining what often becomes multiple children all at the same time. There have been SO many times in the Kimsey household where I have had children in every bathroom in our house and some more on their beds, thinking about what they did that contributed to the great conflagration that just occurred!
Some of my children are still dead, trapped and lost in the sin and trespass that destroys for eternity. Right now we are blessed with a 3 year old and almost 2 year old who both live full on in the flesh. I marvel at the sheer forcefulness of selfishness, the rage of being offended, the pride and deceit that can cover actions for self-protection. It only takes a little spark to begin to fuel an explosion between multiple factions and next thing I know, everyone is mad, taking sides, screeching and screaming! In those moments I am often struck by the fact that this raw reaction that is so appalling is mine as well. That apart from the reconciling work of Jesus Christ bringing me into growing intimacy with Him, I too resort to self-preservation/protection and pursue what I desire. Now I may make it appear more socially acceptable in most instances, but that is simply because I have learned people don’t like it when you scream in their face or snatch something away from them.
The old versus the new – Paul lays out great contrast between the two in this chapter. This is who I was, and who my little lost ones are:
- dead in trespass and sin
- following the course of the world
- following the prince of the air
- once lived as sons of disobedience
- carried out desires of body and mind
- children of wrath
- separated from Christ as a Gentile
- alienated and strangers to the covenants of promise between Jews and God
- no hope, without God
So it suddenly becomes clear, doesn’t it, why my little ones have such a hard time obeying or loving one another! They are furiously, fiercely following all that is this world, all that is of the enemy, and all that is of their own flesh, their own body and mind. And they have not developed a filter. But as their mother, my job is not to merely teach them to filter well and act socially correct. I don’t want externally acceptable kids who have no idea they desperately need a Savior to save them from the law of sin and death that rules in their body!
I want to understand what the Gospel is and what God’s grace has done so that I can daily reflect that to my children. Because of His atoning death and redemption through His grace, I am:
- alive together with Christ
- saved by grace through faith
- raised up with Him
- seated with Him in heavenly places in Christ
- not my own doing, not works
- His workmanship
- created for good works
- now brought near
- one with Jews, dividing wall has been destroyed
- reconciled to God
- have access in one Spirit to Father
- member of the household of God
Everything has changed.
Each one of those points is huge, worthy of being dug into for days all throughout the Scriptures. And I’m sure many scholars would say there are ways to break that listing down further or that I missed some. And I know there are many more passages where more layers of His Gospel are uncovered. But in the moments where everyone is in a bathroom (and I want to be put into my own bathroom so as not to go off on someone!), I need to regain the truths of the Gospel. Because as Christ’s ambassador to my children (2 Cor. 5:20) I cannot represent my own interests, but only His.
So my bathroom conversations with my lost children as well as my saved children run on parallel tracks, both pointing to Christ. To my saved child, the goal of the conversation is to help them honestly look at their part, to guide them through what was motivating them and what lie they chased, and re-establish with them the truths of who they are because of Jesus Christ and what God is at work doing within them.
For my lost little ones, the conversation even at 3 years old is to point out the sin, the ugly actions that have placed them in the bathroom and to point to the only One who will ever change them. I want them to understand that I know they cannot act nice or self-controlled or whatever. They can’t. So there is really no point in us telling our little ones to be kind or be patient. I think this perpetuates the lie within the Christian church that we can somehow behave well or muster up the right response. God doesn’t want me to behave well; he wants me submitted to Him and seeking Him. So it is far better for me to lead my child at that moment to realize they need only Jesus.
Because He is rich in mercy and loves with a great love and graciously saves – to the one who is saved and walking in new life, this is encouraging; to the one who is dead, this is life-giving. He wants to show the immeasurable riches of His grace toward us.