What is our goal as parents? We spend 18ish years feeding, clothing, nursing, caring, teaching, testing, training, guiding, and living with our children. While the “goal for today” may look different from last year’s “goal for today”, there is also a long-term target that we are trying to make sure they hit.
We don’t often verbalize what that “active-parenting-is-done-end-game” goal looks like. Truthfully, the busyness of the moment makes it easy to forget that we’re aiming toward anything other than survival. However, if we were to list out what we desire for our kids to be like when they finally become adults, it would probably look something like this:
I want them to be healthy, active members of society. I want them to love God and others, and to be growing in both of those areas. I hope they have a “good” career that uses their talents. I really want them to be happy with their life/spouse/family/etc.
These are all good dreams for us to have for our children. But it’s not very often that these ideas are forefront in our minds, especially as they get older. I have to wonder, though, if we don’t think about this goal as much, not because of the busyness – but because we’re worried they may not be 100% ready when the time comes.
No matter how well we parent, no matter how pure our love is, and no matter how spot-on our advice is – our kids’ lives could still be derailed by their own choices. Lots of things in this world are ready to be distractions or disruptions: unhealthy relationships, various addictions, rejection of God, rejection of family, wasting of talents, etc. But those are the reason WHY we parent them. We give them guidance, love, direction, opportunities, and education so they CAN reach their full potential.
It’s no wonder we do these things – since God does the same with each of us. Once we have been born again, we become part of God’s family, and He has a plan to mature each one of us. He has an incredible end-goal in mind for what our full potential looks like. Paul pointed this out in his letter to the believers at Colossae. Look for God’s goal for them, but also be on the lookout for what will help them reach that goal:
And you were once alienated and hostile in mind because of your evil actions. But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him – if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith, and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard.
God the Father has reconciled you…to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him. That goal is a HUGE change from where I’m currently at. But looking back on my life, I can see that I’m closer now than I was when I became a Christian. God’s been patiently working on me, and I trust that He will continue to do so, all the while aiming for His goal in my life.
But we both know that I’m susceptible to distractions and disruptions. I can be my own worst enemy. I could derail God’s plan to mature me if I rebel and disregard His leading and direction in my life. That kind of behavior wouldn’t mean that I’m not part of the family – instead it would mean that God would have to address my rebellion before getting back to developing my maturity.
That’s why Paul says that God’s goal for believers – to be shown as holy, faultless, and blameless before Him – is conditional. Some of us won’t make it to full maturity. That’s why Paul prays that the believers may walk worthy of the Lord (1:10). That’s why Paul says his goal is that we may present everyone mature in Christ (1:28). These things may happen…they may not. Throughout the rest of the letter, Paul warns the Colossians about other distractions and how to keep step with God and His aim for us.
However, Paul’s best advice comes in verse 23. We will be able to reach full maturity if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith, and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard.
Our starting point is also our anchor. The hope of the gospel – Jesus coming to earth to save us when we couldn’t save ourselves – is what grounds us. Just as we trust God for salvation, we must also trust Him for our maturity.