By Leonard Lauriault: QCS Religion Columnist
In the movie, “Alice in Wonderland,” the hookah-puffing caterpillar asks Alice, “Who are you?” Knowing who we are has to do with whose we are. When I was younger, I was known as “one of Hettie’s boys.” People knew my parents and informed me that if I forgot myself and didn’t behave they’d make sure my parents found out (Numbers 32: 23).
Some people forget themselves whenever they go someplace they expect to never visit again. They do things elsewhere they wouldn’t be caught dead doing in their hometown. Others forget themselves even in their hometown.
I remind my own children before they go out in public they should behave themselves because many people in our town know them. Hopefully, they’ve never forgotten themselves, thereby avoiding the troubles many face everyday. My children occasionally try to use the same tactic against me, telling me that their friends know me as their Dad, also saying, “Please don’t embarrass us in public.” Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
My wife uses the threat of public embarrassment as a tactic to elicit obedience from our children, claiming great success. It works because they know she’ll do it. (Isn’t it the parents’ responsibility to embarrass their children in public?)
As a pre-teen, Jesus knew he was God’s Son and what was expected of him in that capacity (Hebrews 1: 2, 3; Luke 2: 49-52). As the Son of man, he also was expected to live in obedience to his earthly parents. Knowing he was God’s son and heir of all things gave Jesus the freedom to do whatever he wanted wherever he went without being disobedient. Although he did some things that embarrassed his earthly family, Jesus’ nobility gave him the freedom to serve in whatever capacity was appropriate at the time, whether in the limelight or the lowlight, (John 7: 5; Mark 3: 20, 21; John 12: 1-9; 13: 3-7; Matthew 20: 25-28).
As Christians, we also are God’s children and co-heirs with Christ and should be comfortable doing whatever task is at hand that brings glory to God, even if it means sharing in Jesus’ sufferings (Galatians 3: 26-4: 7; Romans 6: 3-7; 8: 12-17; John 17: 4, 5; 15: 18-21; Hebrews 12: 2-4). When it came time to do the real dirty work of God’s will, Jesus didn’t say, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it (Exodus 4: 13).” Although he didn’t want to suffer the cup of the cross and the resulting separation from God, he remained committed to his mission (Hebrews 10: 5-7; Matthew 26: 39, 42, 43; 27: 46).
Anything accomplished within God’s will is part of the high calling we’ve received as his children (Philippians 3: 10-16; Colossians 3: 17, 23, 24). Having the attitude of Jesus and remembering what he’s done for us, we should never consider ourselves above performing any service we have the ability and time to do (Philippians 2: 1-8; Romans 12: 1-8; Psalm 84: 10). Also, we’re not to think too lowly of ourselves (Exodus 4: 10-12; Judges 6: 11-16; Joshua 1: 6-9). God gives each of us work to do and if we offer ourselves to him no matter how great or small the task, it’s equally honorable and he’ll bring it to completion (Ephesians 2: 10; 1 Peter 4: 10, 11; 1 Corinthians 3: 5-9).
One thing we should always remember is that nothing we do according to God’s word should embarrass us. Any activity undertaken with the right intentions, guided by God’s word, will accomplish good rather than evil and we need not be ashamed (Ephesians 5: 8-12; 1 Thessalonians 5: 4-11; 2 Timothy 2: 15; James 4: 17). Even if things don’t turn out as we thought they would, God is the one who works it all out (Proverbs 16: 3; Romans 8: 28; Isaiah 55: 8-11). One thing we should never forget is that, as God’s children, we’ve been forgiven of our past sins and when we do things we should be ashamed of, we can go back to him and be forgiven for those as well (2 Peter 1: 3-11; Acts 2: 38, 39; 22: 16; 1 John 1: 5-2: 6).
Jesus’ mother and brothers eventually realized he wasn’t so off the wall after all (Acts 1: 12-14; 15: 13). Maybe, my children will continue to forgive me when I embarrass them and eventually realize that I’m not so off the wall either. OK, well I can at least hope, can’t I? By the way, if you see my children expressing uncouth, unAmerican, or unChristian behavior, please tell them you know whose children they are. If you need to embarrass them to get them to behave, do so.
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the church of Christ