First Commandment

The First Commandment and Parenting

Joe Willmann Teaching the Faith at Home Leave a Comment

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This blog typically focuses on things we can do to help teach the faith to our children. Last night, however, I realized something, and I wanted to share that with you. I have been struggling with this issue for a while, and maybe talking about it here can help us all.

Here it is: as a parent, I struggle with the First Commandment.

You shall have no other gods.

What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

It’s not that I struggle with having other gods in terms of worshiping the god of Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, and so on. No, it is that I struggle with allowing things in my life to become a god to me, and this takes away from my vocation as a father and a husband.

Let me make this confession: I love YouTube. I do! I subscribe to a lot of channels on YouTube because I find them personally edifying. There are channels that I learn from, channels that make me laugh, and channels that challenge me. Truthfully, if it wasn’t for live sports, YouTube would probably replace television for me.

But last night happened . . .

My daughter loves to play. It seems that every moment of every waking hour is spent playing, doing a puzzle, doing a craft, eating, reading, or running. She has so much joy, and all she wants to do is to play with me. She especially loves to play in the basement. There’s room to run down there. Her “desk” and her crafts are there, and her great quantity of puzzles are neatly organized in a box. It’s all there.

Last night, we went downstairs, and I sat on the futon with my iPhone out and watched YouTube while she had fun. She would periodically say, “Daddy, come play with me.” I would respond with, “In a minute.”

Then it hit me, square in the face.

I love the YouTube Channel Off The Ranch. It’s from a young family who vlogs a few days a week about their adventures and life in Texas. The father is the main personality in the vlog. At the end of one of his latest posts, he talked about his goals in life, and one of them was to be an awesome dad. He talked about how he’s always wanted to be one.

So there I am, sitting on a futon while my daughter is begging me to play with her, and I realize what has just happened. I had allowed my love of YouTube to become a god in my life. I had let it take priority over my duties as a father and, even to an extent, as a husband to my wife.

Now, I know what a lot of you are going to say: “Joe, don’t be too hard on yourself. It happens to all of us.” I hear you. We are all poor, miserable sinners. It’s why we cling to the promise of the cross. It’s why we receive His Means of Grace every Sunday. I thank God for these visible means that He has given to us, the assurance that we have in Him.

Our Epistle reading from this last Sunday has something to say about this topic:

1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Romans 6:1–11 ESV

Let us not continue in our sin. We are baptized children of God. We have been buried into Christ’s death, so that when the Father looks down on us, He will say: “This is My beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17 ESV). Rejoice in that salvation which has been won for you on the cross!

So what about you? Have you allowed something to become a god in your life? Rejoice in the promise of our Savior and struggle with me against those sins.

God’s blessings as you teach your children the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3 ESV).

 

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About the Author

Joe Willmann

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Joe Willmann is the Senior Instructional Designer for Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis, MO. A former teacher and administrator, Joe has a passion for education and learning theory. He earned his Bachelor's Degree from Ball State University and his Master's Degree from Concordia University - Ann Arbor. He lives with his wife, Nicole, his daughter Ava, and his son Carter. You can read his latest posts here.

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