Series Title: Growing Up into Christ
This series is produced on behalf of the ELS Board for Youth Outreach. The aim of the series is to invest in the youth of the ELS by building up the households and parents of those youth in the “unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:13). While there are many cultural chasms between adults and adolescents, the body of Christ (the Church) provides us one marvelous location where post-pubescent teens and parents are meant to be together: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5)—in short, together Growing Up into Christ.
Read: Ephesians 4:11–14
Dear Christian parents and grandparents,
Perhaps you’ve seen it: six, eight, maybe even ten young children harnessed together as they walk the sidewalk. At the head of the harness is the teacher, leading the gaggle of children to the library, the pool, the rec center, etc. If you have seen this relatively new practice (it wasn’t around when I was in kindergarten), you may have had varying thoughts. Some may object to this new practice, suggesting that it seems dehumanizing. Others may object on the argument that it prevents a child from being his or her own individual: skipping, exploring, engaging in child-like activities.
Nothing is quite so “sacred” in American society right now as individualism—the right to be your own person—march to your own beat—do your own thing without the possibility or presence of any harness to impede you.
One can argue about the merits of using a child harness versus individualism. However, the harness can be an illustration of how God blesses and sustains His “gaggle,” the Christian Church, on its way to heaven. He gave the blessed Anchor of Christ, His Son, to a world of individual sinners. In His mercy, God secures individual sinners (you and your children, me and mine) to Christ in the faith. That’s right, you are harnessed to Christ. In Christian faith, the best thing going for you or your child(ren), me and mine, is NOT that we remain individuals. Individualism may make a great entrepreneur or a successful artist, but it robs the Christian of many blessings.
Consider the means of grace. Holy Baptism takes an individual sinner, born in sin and an enemy of God by nature, and makes that individual sinner a member (a small part) of God’s family in Christ. The Lord’s Supper is distributed to individual sinners like you and me, your confirmed children and mine, but its gracious and glorious result is NOT a huge mass of individual holy people but a Holy Communion—an assembly of saints in Christ.
Where the devil roams, the world waxes wise, and sinful flesh simmers, individuals (yes, “individual Christians”) are easy prey, susceptible to the prevailing winds of false teaching, thinking, and believing. Just as the Good Shepherd knows the dangers of a single sheep wandering about alone, so too, Christian faith and teaching acknowledges that “individual Christians” are rag dolls, prime to be tossed to and fro even to their spiritual death.
Christianity by its very nature does not foster or allow for spiritual individualism. It kills it—for your good and the good of your children! Paul says to the Christian, “You have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
We are born as individuals, as rag dolls. And left to ourselves, we would remain the same—like a small child left to be an individual on the perilous streets of the big city. But in God’s grace He has given you and your children rebirth—a new life—a life in Christ. Hidden in Him and bound together by the harness of His life, death, and resurrection, that is where we individual rag dolls find refuge. Harnessed together in Christ and the true faith that shares Him from generation to generation, that is where rag dolls are found rejoicing like the saints that they are.
Kyle Madson is a home missionary in Weatherford/Hudson Oaks, Texas.
Series Title: Growing Up into Christ