My Three Sons (The Already/Not Yet):
Having three boys is wonderful! Not that I think having daughters is somehow inferior, but I only experience the situations God places me in, and He has chosen to bless me with three boys thus far – maybe a daughter will come later. I love my boys! I figure “why not write a post about two of the things I love?” – my sons and theology.
If you think about it, the two topics are really inseparable. My theology directly affects how I relate to my children. How and what I teach them, both in word and deed. The pressure comes on me because the three boys I am responsible for are placed in my care to be raised as godly men. I’m learning there are many challenges to this, yet in each area I am seeing that my theology has an enormous amount of influence.
One area that maturing theologically has spurred maturation in fatherhood is in my understanding of eschatology. Yeah, that’s right! The study of last things. Crazy, huh?! Let me explain, hopefully you won’t think me crazy for long. There is an instance that stands out in my mind in full color. You know some memories take on a black&white feel and other are in living color… this one is one of those that I think will never fade as I don’t think God will let me forget it. Micaiah was a few months old. I was a full time college student, as well as working 2nd shift full time – sleep was precious to me. There was a particular night where he would not stop screaming. The only way to get him to clam down was to stand up and walk with him. As soon as I would lay him down he would instantly begin to scream. This went on for a while. Finally it dawned on me that this little booger was doing this on purpose. He just didn’t want me to sleep! I help him up, face to face, and from one man to another explained to him how irrational and selfish his actions were. How important it was for me to sleep so I could adequately fulfill the obligations for the following day. And would you believe he had the audacity to act as if he couldn’t understand me! He just cried louder to drown me out! Then my wife explained to me that Micaiah is just a baby and he doesn’t think like that. I tried to correct her misconception, but she stood by it. Exhausted, I went to school and work the next day while she took him to the doctor. The doc said that my little conspirator actually had two ear infections. Talk about feeling like an Equus africanus asinus!
So why tell you this? Because I see it as a practical example of failing to maintain the “already/not yet” tension that Scripture requires us to hold eschatologically. You see, Jesus came proclaiminig the kingdom of God. He told the Jews that it was right under their noses, that they were looking at it in the face! We are taught that Jesus is the firstborn of the new creation; yet all things have not been re-created, nor has the kingdom of God come in it’s fullness – we’re told to look for it’s fulfillment and we long for it to come in it’s fullness. There is an already/not yet tension that we are living in. To over emphasize either one to the exclusion of the other is fatal. If we push all of it to the future then we deny much of what Christ taught about Himself and His work as well as deny the status He has among the renewed order and His present work in this world. If we emphasize the “already” then we become full preterists in that we claim there is nothing left to look forward to, maybe even to the extent of saying Jesus has already returned. Both extremes are fatal!
Still don’t see what I’m trying, albeit poorly, to say? Something I have learned is that I must hold this same tension in teaching my boys. Micaiah is a man, yet constantly in the state of becoming one. Today, Micaiah is as much a man as he’s ever been; but God willing, not the most of a man he will ever be. If I treat him as if he were a mature man then I will ruin him for sure. At the same time, if I treat him as only a child then he will never grow up, and I will have stunted his development. I must hold both in tension. I must be cautions to not emphasize one to the exclusion of the other. I try to instill in him a philosophy that he can employ at his age now, yet adapt as he continues in his manhood. Even my calling him “little man” is purposeful as I remind him, as well as myself, of our responsibility and aim.
Theological application #1 of fathering 3 boys:
The Already/Not Yet.