In a recent newspaper opinion piece,1 Adele Horin bemoans the choices made by two women of her acquaintance—a mother and a daughter, both highly intelligent, who opted out of the full-time career market to spend time at home raising children:
In a recent SMH opinion piece, Adele Horin bemoans the choices made by two women of her acquaintance—a mother and a daughter, both highly intelligent, who opted out of the full-time career market to spend time at home raising children:
She topped the state in the final exams, a brilliant girl. But she married young and did what women did in the 1960s, stayed at home to raise her children while her husband climbed the corporate ladder. Much later she worked part-time. Now it’s her brilliant daughter’s turn. A lawyer in her 40s, she has pulled back, left the big firm with its killer hours to do home-based work, and to raise her own precociously bright daughters while her husband does the climbing.
In this series I’ve been working my way slowly through various facets of life (home, education, work, sport, etc.), talking about the opportunities that each presents for being involved in the lives of others for their good and their salvation, and the idolatries that have the potential to destroy us and our witness by luring our hearts away from Christ. In this post, having set out a general framework and taken a brief look at the opportunities and idolatries of the home, I want to turn to the topic of education (our own and our children’s) and the opportunities that it provides for mission.
In my last post, I suggested some of the opportunities that our homes provide for serving God in mission within his world. But a home doesn’t just create opportunities for mission, it also creates opportunities for idolatry. Instead of being a place where God is worshipped and served, home can itself become a god we worship—or a shrine for the worship of other gods.
I’m hoping in my next few posts to look at a few different areas of life (home, education, work, sport, etc.). I want to discuss the opportunities that each present for being involved in the lives of others—for their good and their salvation. I also want to examine some of the idolatries that we can be tempted to serve in each of these areas—idolatries that have the potential to destroy both us and our witness by luring our hearts away from Christ. I’m going to start with the most obvious one: our homes.
There are two big opportunities for mission that our homes open up for us: proximity and hospitality.
In my previous post, I started a short series on ‘missional lifestyle’, and set out a basic framework for discussing what that might look like. But before I jump into the details, I thought I ought to write a second ground-clearing post—this time focusing on the relationship between lifestyle and legalism.
On a church camp recently (not our own church, but another one), I had the chance to take part in a discussion with a group of women about what a ‘missional lifestyle’ might look like for us in our various life situations. (My husband Dave was involved in a parallel discussion with the men.)
Stimulated by that discussion and a few of the loose ends left over at the end of it, I thought I might turn my thoughts into a short series of blog posts on the subject. I’ll do my best to write in a way that isn’t fixated on the things that are particular to my own situation. Instead, as far as possible, I’ll try and think the issues through in a way that opens up the conversation to other people in different life circumstances. But if the examples along the way tend to be a bit ‘mums-y’ at times, I hope you’ll understand and forgive!!
The basic framework for the conversation at the camp went like this:
On Sunday mornings, I come to church wearing two hats: parent and Sunday school teacher. Drawing on my experiences from both roles, I thought I’d put together a few thoughts about how parents can encourage our children’s secondary ‘disciplers’ (in this case, their Sunday school teachers) to keep doing the job with perseverance, diligence and joy. It’s a somewhat random list based mainly on my own frustrations and joys over the years. I’d love to hear your additions to the list.
Last week my children made an exciting discovery: high up in the branches of the gum tree in the back yard of the house next door, a magpie was building a nest. For three days, we were transfixed, taking it in turns to look through the binoculars and watch him flying up with tiny sticks, one at a time, carefully adding them to the nest.
On the fourth day, it was windy, and we craned our necks, anxiously watching the upper branches of the gum tree. Would the nest survive? Had this little magpie chosen the wisest place to build a home for his family? We talked about how sad it would be for the poor bird if all his hard work was lost in a sudden gust of wind.
I’ve been thinking a bit lately about contextualization—not so much the contextualization of language, but the contextualization of lifestyle: becoming “all things to all people” (1 Cor 9:22). (more…)
Last December I read an article over at Reformation 21 that was (as they say in current affairs TV) “a story no parent can afford to miss”. It was a brilliant and frightening piece that Stephen Nichols had written about a genre of literature that he had christened (or de-christened!) ‘Apostasy Lit’—“a genre, usually taking the form of a memoir, in which the protagonist reflects on and recants her Christian, usually of the fundamentalist variety, upbringing”.
I’ve been thinking a bit lately about contextualization—not so much the contextualization of language (‘charms’ and ‘calms’ and so on), but the contextualization of lifestyle: becoming “all things to all people” (as in 1 Corinthians 9:22).
My thoughts were sparked by an evening we spent with our next door neighbours recently. As Dave and I were clearing things away at the end of the night, I reflected on the evening and the way that I’d approached it.
Before our guests arrived, I had chosen an outfit that approximated the style of clothes my neighbour wears, I made an extra-gourmet salad and I bought a couple of fancy cheeses. Over dinner and afterwards, I spent a lot of time talking about mortgages and extensions and consumer products. I had also talked a lot about work—the work I used to do (before kids)—in an instinctive effort to establish the kind of education and career credentials that might be taken more seriously than my current job as a full-time mum. And finally (this is the killer one!) I found myself squirming in my seat, wanting to change the subject, when they asked my four-year-old daughter what her favourite thing in the world was, and she answered, “Jesus”.
All this got me wondering what’s the difference between contextualization (or whatever word you want to use to describe doing what it says in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23) and chameleonization (or whatever word you use to describe not doing what it says in Matthew 5:13-16)?
My husband Dave and I have three young children (6, 4 and 2), and one of the things we like to do with them at Easter is learn a memory verse together. This year, we chose to do Romans 5:8. (more…)