Part 1: What the Bible Shows Us About Parenting Like God
Its interesting to notice the layout and story of the Bible. When we think about God as a parent, our Parent, an interesting realization occurs. The order of the Bible, dismissible as human in its layout, lays coherent as a story of God, the divine parent, and the growing up of his offspring, collectively known as the Church. From that realization springs a way to look at God's nature, and our relationship to him. We can then use those understandings to frame our own experiences as children, AND as parents for most all of us (be it as parents, aunts/uncles, or general caretakers of the kids in our lives.) In taking these ideas together to analyze the story of the Bible, some important truths are reaffirmed:
1. God hasn't changed over time. He's just revealed himself and related to us as we have changed in our ability to relate to Him.
When the chosen people of God were in there infancy, He lovingly protected them and ensured their survival. Look at the battle that took place for the first 12 chapters of the Bible. Man in the garden, the Flood, the Tower of Babel. This was a time when God protected his infant Church(which really wasn't close to the form it would eventually take, nor could it even be called a "church" at that point.) God's wrath was directed at the sin that had to be addressed and the battle against the Accuser that was taking place, and every action was as Protector of our futures, as He directed His wrath towards the forces that were acting upon us, rather than poor decisions we were too spiritually immature as a people to realize we were making.
As Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob walk across the pages, we see our childhood. God is very nurturing, sometimes directly and intentionally corrective, and begins to teach us what we need to be, through a series of accounts of the lives of those who were the patriarchs of this body. He consistently asserts himself as our Father, teaches us what that means, and establishes our identity as children of His. Some of those moments were intimate, as when Jacob wrestled with God all night or when Abraham and God haggled over the future of Sodom and Gomorrah. In everything, there was instruction, intimacy, and tender-hearted love.
When we hit our spiritual preteen years, things started to get really interesting. As the children of Israel went into slavery, God revealed that all of the childhood years are over, and its really time to establish a moral compass(if I can use that term loosely without complication here) in the kids. God allows testing, waits until those troubles have run the gauntlet of trial and error by his young ones, then steps in to prove that they are not ready to do this on their own. Despite their grumbling, complaining, and asserting themselves as having better answers than He does, He patiently teaches them. His anger has to burn fiercely on several occasions--He is a Holy God-but each time is a reminder that He still must protect them from themselves, as he had been doing all along. He gives them choices, they make right and wrong ones, and they grow. (to be continued...)