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God has given me so many unique experiences in the past ten years of my life, but one of the most challenging was being asked to portray our Lord on stage for an Easter Passion play.
It’s what I call the “impossible role.” As a human actor, I have a chance — though infinitesimally small — to portray George Washington perfectly. I have no idea how he talked or walked or smiled, but there’s a statistical probability that I could accidentally perform him perfectly.
There is no chance at all, that I could portray Christ perfectly. Aside from the fact that I’m a pasty-skinned red-head, how could I — a sinner — hope to accurately portray the Lord of glory? He is 100% man, but He’s also 100% God . . . and there’s nothing I can do to touch that.
But over the course of ten years I received many opportunities to try: I’ve portrayed Christ in over one hundred shows, across multiple cities, in two states, for three different productions. And every single one of those performances and the countless rehearsals were absolutely overwhelming.
Every year I immerse myself in the gospels just to try to understand a little better how He spoke and interacted with people, but — more importantly — why He did what He did.
But why am I talking about this on a parenting podcast?
That’s a fantastic question, and its answer has massive impact on your family.
Aside from the physical metamorphosis required for me to portray Jesus on stage, I believe I’ve changed even more as a follower of Christ.
I remember the very first year. I remember when this realization hit me — every Christian has been commanded by God Himself to portray His Son on the stage of their lives.
The stakes were very high for me because I knew that thousands of people were going to see the performance every year and each of them would have their own preconceived notions of how Jesus acted. But beyond that, I was really performing for an audience of One, and the weight of that was far greater.
How is that any different from what God expects from each of us? I would argue, playing Jesus every Easter was comparatively easy to the daily task we all have of portraying Christ to the world.
You see, the even the word “Christian” betrays our calling. We’re to be “miniature Christs.” Every day God expects us to be growing in our sanctification — every day we’re to be more conformed to the image of Christ. We’re supposed to be talking more like Him, thinking more like Him, and acting more like Him.
And when it comes to being an Ambassador Parent, even our own personal parenting goals and aspirations need to be overshadowed by His desires.
When it comes to your children, God wants you to be Jesus to them.
Let me share with you just some of the insights I believe are extremely important for every Christian parent called to emulate their Lord.
- Jesus was perfectly bold, especially given His earthly age. The first time I played Him, I was 28. In preparation for the role, I consulted many pastors in hopes of gleaning helpful insights. But the most dramatic revelation I had when conversing with them was that each the men I spoke with was significantly older than I. I then realized that the religious leaders in Jesus’ day would have been equally as old if not older. Then I imagined today’s pastors hearing me, an almost-thirty-something proclaiming to be God! I’d received enough condescension in my life to realize that what Jesus had to do was extremely difficult, not simply because He was turning conventional wisdom on its head and manifesting His deity, but because He was so young.
- If God’s called you to be a parent, He’s called you to be a bold one regardless of your age. Parenting can be scary, it’s amazing how daunting it is to mold little lives. But don’t let your age of comparative inexperience distract you from the reality that if God’s called you to the task, He will equip you for it.
- As you portray Christ to your family, you must boldly speak His Truth in His love.
- He was perfectly wise. Jesus knew exactly what to say and when to say it. He wasn’t distracted by His audience’s rabbit trails. He always spoke directly and immediately to their deepest need. When the woman at the well tried to distract Jesus with racial/political considerations, He pinpointed her sin and need of a Savior. When Martha rushed out to Him after Lazarus’ death, His first words weren’t empty platitudes of sympathy. He replied, “Your brother will rise again.” When Nicodemus made the observation that Jesus had to be from God because of His miracles, Jesus skipped the pleasantries and said, “You must be born again.”
- Every day you will be tempted to miss the most important issues, speak the least important words, and participate in the less than important tasks. Stay focused. As you exemplify Christ to your family, do your best to employ God’s wisdom. Choose carefully your words and activities so that they fulfill God’s purposes of the moment.
- That may mean pretending to be the tickle-monster, but you still need to be intentional.
- He was perfectly focused. Whether He was twelve years old in the temple or thirty-three years old on the cross, His sole goal was to fulfill God the Father’s will.
- As we strive to become the 5th Parent, we should be mirroring Jesus in His constant submission to the will of His Father. It’s as if Christ didn’t have any personal ambitions. He sole desire was to do everything God the Father sent Him to do.
- What about you? What about in your parenting today? Is your highest goal to be the parent God wants you to be?
- He was perfectly loving. It became a running joke over the first few years of the Passion Play that I had to make sure to touch everyone I could on stage at any given time. Whether I was placing a hand on a shoulder, picking up a child, or giving a hug, I needed to be touching someone. This desire to physically connect with people grew out of the fact that I knew Jesus would have loved these people with His whole being. It made all the sense in the world that if He loved them that much, He would connect with them . . . and gladly die for them.
- Are we selfish parents? Are our kids a nuisance? Do they get in the way? Is it annoying trying to teach your stubborn 1st grader to read? Does it make you angry when your teenager snubs your curfew?
- If so, you’re not doing a good job being Jesus to your kids. The beautiful thing about love is its humility. You cannot love another while considering your own interests. Humility doesn’t think lowly of itself, it just doesn’t think of itself at all. It’s too busy doing for others — serving, sacrificing, giving, helping, teaching, encouraging, spending.
- We’ve been called to portray our Savior’s love to our families.
- He was perfectly joyful. The first (but definitely not the last) criticism I received for my portrayal of Christ came after the very first performance in 2009. A gentlemen stopped me and said that though he enjoyed the performance greatly, he believed Jesus was probably more “serious” and “grave” than I had performed Him. I thanked the man for his insights, but then politely explained that as I reflected on Who Jesus was, I realized that He was not only perfectly holy and just, He was also perfectly joyful. Would someone with an infinite source of divine contentment, joy, and peace never smile? Is it possible He never joked with His disciples? I think not.
- What about your parenting? Are you a joyful parent? Are you easy to be around? Do you light up your home? Or are you the shadow that gets cast over nearly every meal? Do the children secretly dread the hour you return home?
- This is not to be!
- We have been saved from sin and death! We’ve been given new life, filled with God Himself, offered grace unmatched and mercy undeserved. We’ve been handed everything we need for life and godliness and given blessings beyond measure! God has given us a family!
- How dare we not be joyful!
- He was perfectly serving. Christ’s entire ministry was one of service. Everything He did, He did for others. Coming to the earth, casting out demons, healing sickness, preaching, washing, dying, rising. It was all done out of obedience to the Father and as a sacrificial service to the people He ministered to.
- This is a more specific application of the earlier observation that Jesus did everything He did for others — starting with His Father.
- Are you a Servant-Parent or a Boss-Parent? Do you lead your family in following Christ, or do you lead your family in following you?
- Are you the first or the last to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty? It doesn’t have to be just chores, though. Do you serve your family by being present and available to them? One of Jesus’ greatest acts of service was simply His availability. Even when His disciples took Him to the other side of the sea in order to mourn the passing of His cousin, when confronted with a multitude of people, Jesus ministered to their needs all day long.
- What about you?
- Lastly, and most uncomfortably, He was perfectly exemplary for us. Whether we’re playing Him on stage or not, we have the responsibility to be just like Him. Romans 8:29 says, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” The passage continues by laying out for us God’s eternal purpose for His children. He predestines, calls, justifies, and will eventually glorify us. This whole process is designed to transform us into the image of His Son. When we’re finally glorified, we’ll be as much like Him as we possibly can be, yet in the meantime, we’re to be consistently being changed into His image (progressive sanctification).
- Just as Christ is an example for us, we should be an example to our children of what it looks like to conform to His example. If we’re not doing it, how are they supposed to learn.
- And if your first thought “their pastors and teachers” then I don’t think you understand the purpose of your calling.
That first year I made the observation that everyone should have the opportunity to portray Christ on stage, because that’s exactly what we’re supposed to do in real life anyway. We’re supposed to say what He would say, the way He would say it, for the reasons He would say it . . . all the time.
What does this mean for our families?
- What if we were bolder in our proclamations? We would be far more passionate about our Lord regardless of the age of our children or their level of obedience. We’d also find it easier to be a good example of other parents regardless of their age.
- What if we thought and analyzed in line with Christ’s wisdom? The rabbit trails and Failure Philosophies wouldn’t distract us or cause us to stumble. God’s wisdom would perfectly answer each parenting situation, and, if we plumbed its depth, we wouldn’t needlessly flounder in our culture’s Disney worldview and pre-pagan mindset.
- What if we were focused on the mission of our Father instead of being distracted by the temporary and sinful foolishness of this life? If Christ’s one goal was to fulfill the will of the Father, why are sports and relationships and diplomas and careers so all-consumingly important to us? With a sanctified life-goal like that, we could continue the apostle’s ministry of turning this world upside down — and we could start with our children!
- What would change in our relationships if we loved like Christ? Goodbye arguments, gossip, bad advice, and weather-casting small talk. Hello prayer, intentional edification, wise counsel, significant discussion, and life-changing intimacy!
- What if our lives were categorized by joy? Imagine the griping, complaining, whining, and general discontentment that would disappear from your home! Imagine now what would necessarily have to take its place.
- What if we served our family as Christ did? Think of the bridges that would be built. Consider the example that would be shown. Imagine the work that would be accomplished!
- What if we were the same example to others that Jesus is to us? Spiritual multiplication produces faster than any math equation! We have a nearly captive audience in our children. How much will they benefit from seeing Christ in us?
I don’t know if the Lord will afford me the opportunity to portray Him again, but whether He does or not, I purpose to be bold, wise, focused, loving, joyful, serving, and exemplifying just like He was . . . and I suggest you do the same.
Don’t forget to swing on over to EvermindMinistries.com for today’s episode notes.
And please join us next time as we discuss creating some sanctified sustainability in your home.
Did you know that TLP is on Twitter now? Well, we are and you can find us @TruthLoveParent. You can also follow us on Facebook and me on Twitter @AMBrewster.
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Easter is a miraculous season! But don’t miss how Christ’s life, death, and resurrection was designed — in part — to conform your parenting into His glorious image!