Part 2-Four Types of Parent-Child Relationships
This post continues the series within a series on Experiencing the Fatherhood of God. As I have noted earlier, these posts are part of a larger series on how to approach God with a Gospel orientation and make up a section of an even larger endeavor to make our way through the Lord’s model prayer. These posts on orientation fall under the heading of “Our Father in heaven hallowed be Your name.”
This morning I posted on:
1. A Relationship of Neglect
Today, I am going to post on:
2. A Relationship of Perfectionism.
All parents want what is good for their children and even might want the perfect good for their child. Perfection ism is not the desire for good things for our children. Perfectionism is withholding of our pleasure in the child unless they behave “just right”. I want to focus on perfectionism because so many people have a perfectionist relationship before God. Perfectionism is withholding joy and celebration because the behavior or effort is not up to our standard. In such a relationship, it is not the child’s desire to do good that matters but the actual results. Life in a perfectionistic relationship is rarely enjoyable. The perfectionist rarely expresses total satisfaction in the other person. Perfectionism undermines the child’s freedom and willingness to take risks. Is their freedom to fail in our relationships? Are we critical as parents and spouses? Of course we are. All of us are. Does this critical attitude undermine the pleasure of the relationship and the joy of the home? Of course it does. All of us are to some degree perfectionistic.
But God is not like this AT ALL.
In the story of the Prodigal Son, the returning son felt unworthy because of his behavior but the father would have none of it. The father simply was happy to see the child. The father’s pleasure in the presence of the child totally over shadowed His desire for the child’s perfect behavior.
The older son was the one that was perfectionistic and judgmental. The difference is that the Father’s sole desire is for our well-being. Our God is not co-dependent. He gains nothing from us being obedient to Him. God has no controlling reasons to motivate us to obedience. His only motive is love for us and a perfect understanding of our good.
The story of martin Luther is a wonderful reminder of how God the Father is NOT a perfectionist. Luther spent many years doing penance and trying to find a way to obtain grace. Some work of Luther’s was to be the means of grace. But Luther found that nothing he could do was acceptable. His works were all filthy. Luther went so far as to find ways to punish himself. And then, Luther discovered GRACE.
In the reading of scripture alone, Luther discovered that there are no works necessary to be absolutely acceptable before God. The Father accepts us through Faith alone. This doctrine heals the soul and drives out all perfectionistic tendencies that put behavior prior to joy and acceptance.
Luther defined the true experience before God as one of being simultaneously saint and sinner. I am a sinner and God accepts me fully. He is not a perfectionist after all!!!
Two antidotes for perfectionism are the constant communication of love and acceptance as the foundation of all relationship between the parent and the child. “I love you and enjoy you no matter what. I may not take pleasure in what you do but I do enjoy you”. The placing of total acceptance prior to the inauguration of any mentoring and teaching relationship is why Protestants place justification firmly before sanctification.
“There is now no condemnation in Christ”.
Paul, in Galatians, is angry at anyone who tries to place law as a means to qualify for the Father’s acceptance. No!!! It is through faith alone that Abraham was declared righteous. We are righteous and have been clothed in Christ unconditionally. The Father simply enjoys us as we are.
Song of Solomon says, “One glance of her eye ravishes my heart”. This verse is a picture of Christ’s love for the church. Just one movement toward Him fans the fire of His love for the believer.
Therefore, when we come before God is vital that we know His total acceptance of us in Christ. He is perfect and has a perfect will for us but that is not perfectionism. As a Christian, our heart is already filled with a “panting after God”. The Calvinist doctrine is that those who are saved are filled with an interest in the things of God. We love righteousness.
When you come before God is your first expectation is that He is upset with you because of your lack of perfect obedience. If so, I say that this expectation of a smack in the back of the head is toxic and does not lead to an orientation of faith in the promises of God.