August 28 - Ephesians 6:1-4

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

I had two separate pieces of information cross my desk today. The first was a plea to children as they started back to school to not be bullies.  The second was the content from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech given fifty years ago on this date.

I don’t have any children on my Facebook friends list, so for me to send out a plea to them to refrain from bullying would be ridiculous. But, as I thought about that this morning, it occurred to me that bullying doesn't begin with our children, but with us.

How many of us (me included) have posted the “People of Wal-Mart” photos on our Facebook pages and made hideous remarks about them. How many of us scorn those who are on welfare and consider it our right as tax-paying citizens to talk about how awful they are. How many of us drive down the street and call people names or flip them off if they make an error while driving? Or make snide remarks at the mall regarding someone’s tattoos or piercings, or even the way they dress.  How many of us laugh at someone else’s confusion over simple things and do all of this in front of children … who don’t yet understand the intricacies of humor or politics.  All they understand is that we are laughing at people who are different or … less … and then, they see that this behavior is appropriate and continue it in ways that we would never consider to be correct.  They've learned their behavior from watching us.

Kids are exposed to so much more than ever before. Teaching them to view even the most ridiculous of our population with grace and understanding is the first step in transforming bullying behavior.

When Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of seeing his children intermixing with children of other colors, he had a dream of a world where there differences were no longer seen, where parents didn't teach their children about those differences, but taught them about love, acceptance and grace … no matter what.

Paul calls on children to respect their parents, but he also calls on parents to deserve that respect and to teach their children in the way of the Lord. It’s the life we live, not just the instruction we give.