I've been home alone with the kids this week whilst my wife has been on a conference to encourage her as a pastor's wife. Something she should get more of from me!
It sounds very virtuous of me, especially as I've not taken time off. Until you realise that friends from church have done the school run every afternoon and had our 3 year old most days. Also my wife cooked and labelled all the meals for the week before she went and provided me with an idiots guide to what I had to do when. Add in two older kids to help out with the smaller ones and I had it easy.
That still didn't stop there being opportunities to demonstrate the wrath of dad. These come about usually when my specific instruction is ignored, argued with, directly disobeyed or simply treated as laughable. Now I know that I can be an unreasonable pig at times, but most of the time the things that I tell my children to do or not do are for their own good.
Like yesterday's garden explosion over the petrol soaked rag (I know I shouldn't have left where he could get it!) that was being fondly clutched by our 3 year old. I urged him, in no uncertain terms, to put it down straight away. He smiled at me and did nothing. I approached at pace. He looked marginally more concerned. I took the rag off him and began to explain that it was dangerous. Bad for him. He ran off turned round and screamed "NO! NO! NO!" at me.
The thing is that is the way that we treat God a lot of the time. As if the things that he tells us to do or not do are all about spoiling our fun and wrecking our lives. We don't treat his law as the gracious words of a loving Father who wants the best for us. We treat it as a set of boring and unreasonable demands from a divine despot, who really needs to get up to date with today's culture and loosen up a little. We treat God's word as something that is a problem, not the privileged wisdom of a loving parent.
Our rejection of what God says is always personal. That's why it often hurts so much when our kids ignore what we say. It's not just that doing your homework is a good thing. Or that it's best for them in the long run. It's that in refusing to comply they are showing contempt for us as we try to love them. The same with the Lord.
I was reading Jeremiah 3 with someone this morning and was struck by the personal nature of rejection that the Lord experiences from his people:
19 “‘How gladly would I treat you like my children
and give you a pleasant land,
the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’
I thought you would call me ‘Father’
and not turn away from following me.
20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband,
so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,”
declares the Lord.
Rejecting God's rule is not throwing off the shackles of a despot. It is rejecting the love of a faithful husband. It is turning your back on a patient and tender Father.
That's why God's love in sending His Son, Jesus, is all the more amazing: The Father who we've rejected would give the Son who loved him perfectly. And the Son who had a perfect relationship with His Father chose to die in our place, so that we now can call His Father our Father. Because we have been clothed with the obedient love of Christ.