Several weeks ago my kids had the opportunity to be in a wedding, and it offered a neat opportunity to discuss with them the significance of a wedding ceremony.
We explained that marriage is a sacred covenant that represents the relationship between Christ and Christians (the Church). We explained to them that marriage is significant not only because you're committing your life to another person. Its significant primarily because you're showing the world a picture of Jesus' love, commitment and faithfulness to His people.
We told them it was a great honor and important responsibility to participate in a marriage ceremony. And we prayed like crazy that everyone would stand still, cooperate and behave! :)
The kids enjoyed the experience and we were blessed by the opportunity.
We also had a great time at the reception. Some children are quiet and shy in situations like that. Not ours. All three of them spent the majority of the reception on the dance floor. They danced to every song, learned the arm motions to "YMCA" and made up their own steps right smack dab in the middle of several group dances. They summoned any wallflowers out on the dance floor and thoroughly wore themselves out.
But, after a while there was a distinct change in the songs. When one song came on that definitely made me feel like we were in "the club" Jon and I decided it was time to scoot. Two of our kids left in tears, disappointed that the fun had to end (they were probably also somewhat affected by the long day and the copious amounts of sugar they had consumed during the evening!).
So we simply explained to them that a song had been played that did not honor the Lord, and we did not want to dance to music that did not please God. I've heard it put in two different ways by two different pastors:
"Never laugh at the things that make Christ weep."
"Don't be entertained by the things that put Christ on the Cross."
Of course, they wanted to know what the song was. We said we didn't want to tell them because we didn't want them to have it stuck in their minds. The next day when my son began to sing "wobble baby, wobble baby" we realized it was too late! So the conversation continued.
And it reminded me that our children cannot be sheltered from the sin of this world. As much as I want them to stay "innocent" (one had asked when we left the wedding "why would the DJ play a song that didn't please God?"), I realize that they live in a fallen world, they are being chased by a devil who wants to "steal and kill and destroy" them (John 10:10), not to mention the fact that they will always face a war within their own selves against their own sinful nature (Romans 7:14-25).
My role is to teach, train and pray. Christ's role is to redeem them, renew their minds, and make them righteous. Praise God that He does all the work and we simply reap the reward! Praise God that my children's salvation and sanctification does not rest on my own sin-sick shoulders!
But this parenting role, this teaching and training, is not easy. Even tonight I am exhausted from facing the discipline issues of the day. I am befuddled as to how to get the truth through to them. I can't change their hearts. I can't make them care. But I can rest in the arms of the God Who CAN. I can receive His grace to accept and rely on the gospel myself, and to teach this great gospel message to my kids. I can pray and wait for Him to change their hearts, to draw them into repentance, to deliver them from the grip of sin.
And I can look forward to the day when I pray that my children will participate in another wedding. A wedding with much greater significance. A wedding supper where all the music brings glory to God and no one leaves in tears!
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready." "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!" "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Rev. 19:7; Rev. 19:9; Rev. 21:3-4)
"They held harps given them by God and sang...
Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." (Rev. 15:2b-4)
"AMEN. COME, LORD JESUS"!