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Safe or saintly?

3rd November 2019

We are in the season when the general public is most inclined to sense the scent of general grace, the greatest gift of heaven and all heaven in that gift. But will we unwrap it and explore its fantastic dimensions of joy? Or are we so obsessed with binding ourselves and our kids into the stifling confinement of ‘being safe’ everywhere and all the time.

Kids used to walk or ride bikes to school. Now there are queues of SUVs dropping off and picking up. Even parents carrying their kids bags for them. ‘Safe’ is everywhere and yes, it is good to be safe. We push safeness onto our kids as a religion. The online ‘Conversation’ ran a piece ‘Is it safe to let our kids climb trees? Let’s ask the experts!’ So out came the surgeon, environmental educator, injury epidemiologist, plus others, to all agree ‘yes it’s OK so long as parents supervise.’ Wow- how did we get on without experts? Now little Billy can scale the apricot tree in the backyard because a bunch of experts have put their tick on it.

But; if we were really committed to safety for our kids a lot more men and women would resist easy adultery, separation and divorce just because they found someone fresh in place of the ‘old’ or ‘too familiar’ spouse. Fact: parents who stay together and raise their kids in a loving God-trusting home do best for the next generation on every parameter of social well-being.

If we were keen for our kid’s safeness, we would build their spiritual fibre by taking them to church to experience and learn worship. We would acquaint them with the biographies of the great radicals and martyrs who changed nations for the good through faith. We would set aside time at meals for prayers; prayers of thanksgiving to God the provider of every good thing. We would teach and show by example how to call out to the Lord of all mercy and grace to answer us in our distress and daily problems.

Do our kids know the Lord’s Prayer, the Great Command, the resurrection truths? That is basic. Do they hear the Psalms read at home by their father and applied with seriousness and care? Is the home, because of this trust, a moral fortress of love and truth imbued with powerful weapons against the flighty dark and evil thoughts of the age that attack and devastate mental health? It can be, so simply.

If these dimensions are absent all the safe stuff becomes shallow and short-lived. Our present human and multi-billion-dollar crisis in suicide and depression runs rampant in this shallowness. Human beings are more than consumers and statistics. They are souls, and the human soul cries for more than the change and decay provided by being ‘safe’. Death, disease, dysfunction and despair stalk, plus a myriad of calamities. We need more. Our kids need more.

In the sixteenth century Pascal, the brilliant mind who discovered both the rudiments of the computer and the concept of matter under pressure (kilopascals) was also a deep student of Scripture. He concluded that the greatest danger for any human was not to be a saint; that is, to miss understanding that they are created to know God and to learn the language of heaven. For the sake of our errant kids or grandkids let us devote ourselves to showing the way to true safety.

Rev Ian Clarkson has a special ministry focus on supporting and encouraging ministers and congregations in South Australia.

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