“…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” ~ 1 Peter 1:15
“Are we baking in class today?” I had to smile as one of my Sunday school students eyed the Canola oil, the small container of red food coloring, and the bottle of water with childlike curiosity.
“No baking today. We’re doing a science experiment with oil and water.” We were reading 1 Peter 1- 2:12, with the focus of the lesson on Christ-followers’ lives being set apart – holy – as Jesus was holy.
“God is not some eternal blessing-machine for people to use, and He did not come to save us out of pity – He came to save us because He created us to be holy. ~ Oswald Chambers
A few days prior I’d been thinking of this very thing as the boys and I were walking with Jedi. Chase and Cole often trail a few feet behind, their blue eyes eager for lizards and frogs and their hands ready for bug grabbing action.
Unfortunately, they like to grab things off the road and sidewalk we don’t want them to touch. Both boys spontaneously reach for anything and everything that catches their attention and fits in their hands, whether it’s someone else’s used lollipop stick, a wind-blown piece of trash, or a dirty penny.
For the past seven years, Trevor and I have repeated a similar mantra over and over – and over, and over, and over – again.
“Put that down…It’s dirty…You don’t know where that’s been…That’s trash… It’s been in someone else’s mouth…You’ll cut your finger… Drop it…It’s dirty…Don’t touch it!”
Parents following Christ teach their children a parallel truth, that worldly treasures littered around our feet – “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) – are not of God, often harmful, sin-coated treasures better off left alone, out of their hands and lives. Experience has taught us adults that it’s difficult to let go of these items even after we realize they’re useless and harmful spiritually.
I began the Sunday school lesson and experiment, explaining that the water represented Christians and the oil represented the world and everything in it. God calls us to mix with the world and to shine His light, but we’re also called by God to seek Jesus and be holy as He is holy. Their expressions were eager as I squeezed a few drops of red food coloring into the water – a symbol of Jesus’ blood on the cross, covering our sin.
I also mentioned that the food coloring wouldn’t mix with the oil, only with the water molecules, which is similar to the fact that some will never respond positively to the gospel of Jesus. As I mixed the oil and red water together and shook the container, we watched the red water slowly create a separate bubble in the middle of the oil.
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” ~ 1 Peter 2:9
When we’re born again through faith in Jesus Christ, our life changes. We can no longer pick up shiny, empty, worldly treasures from the ground because He who called us to Himself also calls us to be separate and keep our hands clean. Though we won’t be sinless in this life – that’s our heavenly hope – when we seek Jesus and grow in Him, the fruit will be that our lives become like that red water, set apart and beautifully stained with the hope we find only in Him.
As a parent after Jesus’s heart, I’m learning the most effective way to teach this Truth to our boys is living it out before them…seeking God’s face about everything; passing over movies and books that aren’t appropriate and don’t honor God; spending money on things that bless others, glorify God’s kingdom and further His Name; speaking words that I would speak around Jesus; and making God’s word an integral part of our home.
I’m grateful that no matter how many times I fail, God’s grace is deep and wide enough to catch parenting pitfalls and turn them around for His glory and our children’s good.
“Our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. ~ Psalm 33:21