It’s reported that James Calvert, missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, responded to the concerns of a ship captain who said, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages” by saying “We died before we came here.”
After reading that a few weeks back, I had to let it simmer and reduce in my heart. It hit me. So much of the American culture values independence and individuality above all. Those are the Sola’s of our zeitgeist. We do not want anyone telling us how to live, what to believe, or who to follow. I’ve seen more than once on social networks people posting something like, “Parents, that indoctrinate their children are harming their free thinking.” As one instance on a larger platform, pro bowl NFL running back Arian Foster wrote an article for Yahoo!’s Shine, “NFL Star Arian Foster: 6 Things I'll Try to Teach My Daughter.” His last item is
6. The flying spaghetti monster. There are billions of people on Earth with hundreds of religions and sects that trickle off each other. I will never tell her what to believe in. I know parents are very influential on kids' spiritual beliefs and that can be a positive or negative thing. I can give her a basic understanding of religions when she starts showing interest and asking questions. But I will remain silent otherwise.
Ironically, even providing that openness is itself a religious belief. It’s a form of faith in the religion of tolerance in the West.
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I don’t understand that kind of parenting. God explicitly commands parents through out Scripture to actively teach their children about Him and to rehearse the gospel story in our homes. That’s what A Household Gospel is about. Finding that rhythm. Creating a liturgy in our homes. Making Jesus Christ the hero of our mundane everyday.
But that’s easier said than done. We are still sinners. We still fight with sin, flesh, and the devil. It takes raised-to-new-life kind of faith to love God as a family. Part of that equation happens when you realize, “We died before we came here.”
We were slaves to the body of sin and we have died with Jesus Christ and have been raised to new life. Dying daily isn’t work to be done for salvation. It’s already been done and so it continues. The gospel, therefore, is not just central for our daily liturgies in our homes. It’s central in our hearts as we fight to keep the gospel central.
So next time you are struggling to serve, lead, or love your family. Next time you struggle with responding to your spouse. Next time your gut response is unrighteous anger towards your children. Next time your pride holds you back from repenting. Next time you feel guilty for missing family worship for two weeks. Remember the gospel story is for you, for the trenches. You died before you came here. That’s good news.
How do you allow your sin, shame, and guilt stop you from rehearsing the gospel in your home? How does realizing you died before you came change the way you approach your family with the gospel? Get your copy of A Household Gospel for $2.99 on Kindle. That’s less than a coffee at Starbucks!