“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship…Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them properly…” (Romans 12:1, 6)
Both my wife and I were raised in households with high behavioral expectations. Some of that was culturally-based and some of it was due to the size of our households. The bottom-line was that childhood permissiveness wasn’t part of our experience. While there was never a question about who our parents were and who we belonged to, we had responsibilities in and for the household.
I easily remember being 12 and 13 and pulling the covers over my head on Saturday mornings hoping my father think I was asleep and not wake me. It didn’t happen. He usually gave me until 8 or 8:30 before he marched into my room to tell me to get up and come outside to mow the lawn, rake leaves, shovel snow or whatever else he wanted me to do. Most times he was out there with me but doing something else. And even the times when his job called him away from home, I knew he would call at some point and ask my mother if I had done my work. My wife’s story is much the same. She was the second oldest of seven siblings which meant lots of work to go around, and everyone had a part.
As adults, we brought a similar approach to the raising of our own children. They were ours. We loved them dearly just as we were loved…and they shared in the responsibilities of our household. Our expectations of them were age appropriate, but there were expectations none-the-less. Some might have thought we were a little strict, but I doubt anyone would have accused us of being permissive parents.
I’ve wondered, over the years, if too low expectations and permissiveness in the Church contributes to churches struggling to effectively pursue the grand mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ. To be blunt, are there too many spoiled children in the household of GOD?
Jesus never doubted whose Son He was. He knew He was loved. It was for that very reason He worked as hard as He did, sacrificing His life for the sake of all who were and are estranged from GOD. The calling of GOD is high and requires faith to believe and effort to pursue.
There is a difference between relationship and vocation! Yes, we are called to and offered the opportunity to be in relationship with GOD through Christ. That doesn’t mean that, upon accepting that offer by faith, we then walk around claiming to be sons and daughters of the King but without accepting any responsibility to His kingdom. To do so is a denial of the vocation that comes with the relationship, which is unfaithfulness. It might do to read and reread Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 (all written by the Apostle Paul) to be taught or reminded of the high emphasis placed on the children of GOD doing the work of GOD.
I recall an old Lanny Wolf song that speaks to this very issue. The song’s chorus is:
My house is full, but my field is empty,
Who will go and work for Me today.
It seems My children all want to stay around My table,
But no one wants to work in My fields,
No one wants to work in My fields. 1
If we think about it, the house can’t remain full for long if no one is working in the fields. For those of us who claim that special relationship with the Most High GOD, let’s be faithful to the Christ-like vocation to which we were assigned. Am I pulling the covers off your head? You’ll survive. Actually, you’ll thrive.
- My House Is Full (But My Field Is Empty) by Lanny Wolf, Published in 1977.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2021. All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.