Catechizing into the Kingdom?

Galatians 1:11-12 11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Let’s all agree that parenting is hard. My father once had an old, heavy, early-70’s era car with bad shocks. On rural, crowned Illinois roads, you didn’t so much drive it as you guided it down the road, as it drifted left and right, despite the steering wheel. The goal was to not hit passing cars, nor drive into a ditch. Parenting is often like that. Rarely do we feel like we’re driving in the perfect center of our lane. And as soon as we do, our kids and circumstances change. So we slow down and revert to avoiding accidents and ditches. 

One such ditch is hinted at here, in Galatians 1. Paul has been accused of propagating his own gospel, one that’s different from the “real apostles” back in Jerusalem. So Paul argues that the gospel he preached to them is not his own, nor any man’s. It’s God’s. Because it was God that revealed it to him. Certainly Paul would known before his conversion (which he discusses in the following verses) the facts about Jesus: his miraculous life, shameful death and the claims of his resurrection. About Jesus, and the Old Testament, Paul had the facts mastered. 

This brings us back to parenting, and our practice of catechizing: that is, teaching, often by rote memorization, the facts about God. This is a good practice; it is not bad. But Paul’s experience tells us not to rely too much on catechism, lest it become a ditch. Paul’s conversion teaches us that no one gets educated into the kingdom of God. Yes, catechize. Yes, teach. Yes, take deliberate times of family devotions. Yes, read good kids storybooks. But we musn’t become satisfied with the mere transmission of knowledge. It was not facts that Paul needed most. Every child needs the same thing Paul needed: God to reveal Himself, granting sight to see Jesus, and a fear and desire to listen to Jesus. 

Driving down the road of parenting means aiming for nothing less than God to reveal His Son to the little ones. Thus we talk, and listen. And pray. For ourselves: that He would burnish us into increasingly reflective mirrors of His Son. And for the kids: for His supernatural work to give life.