I live in very close proximity to my neighbours.
Like close… we share a backyard and if one of my kids opens the bathroom door while i am on the toilet. I can see right through their laundry window and into their lounge room.
Good morning Neighbourino’s.
I need to drink more water.
My neighbours have children the same age as mine. They play outside often. Often the girls congregate at my steps to play, chat and generally make their presence known. I pick up snippets of conversation as I carry on about my day. (not sitting on the lounge eating ice cream and watching oprah…whaat?)
You know, I bustle about with my general cleaning, mopping, ironing, baking and other domestic bliss things.
Once i heard them talking and my 4yr old pips up and says excitedly,
My dad LOVES spiderman! he has spiderman knickers Mumma got him!
Too much info, I make a mental note to laugh later at the mention of my hub wearing ‘knickers’. I am about to go have a word with them about appropriate conversation topics when I am cut short by Tash, our neighbour’s daughter,
MY DAD likes to tuck his shirt into his knickers.
Meh. Now we are even.
There was a time though, when the conversations between our daughters is tougher to deal with.
My child sent her friend home in tears once, having told her that her behaviour would make God angry. My neighbour comforts her daughter. She ensured her that God never gets angry. He never gets sad and we do not ever need to be scared of displeasing Him.
Something in my guts drop.
Every hour the girls spend together is locked in a battle.
My mum says God does get angry…
… my mum said He doesn’t
…yes He does!
No He doesn’t!…
I bring my debater inside, hoping the theological debates will fade into forgotten so they can play together again soon. Without battle.
I told her that she should not have told her friend that she was making God mad – rather encouraged her to do what was right. We talked about the importance and potency of our words.
It was a great chat – but she couldn’t let me go without wanting it in black and white.
does God get angry?
So I tell her that yes, our actions grieve our Great and Merciful God greatly. That his wrath is justified and that is the point of Grace.
I tell her that fearing God isn’t about being scared – but knowing that it is holiness and perfection that we are faced with. And knowing that that is a big deal.
so…. we are right and they are wrong?
that is what it is boiling down to?
What do I say to that?
My hub comes home to this mess that is tolerance, community living, unity in the body of christ… and the doctrine of grace explained to a 4yr old.
I heap my failing mess at his feet, o wise husband. Make everything ok. Glorify God our Father with what we teach our children… but don’t make the neighbours hate me!
What?! what do we tell her?
My Hub’s answer was profound and true.
“what does the Bible say?
If it is true and Biblical… we teach it to our children.
We impress it upon them
and live it by example.”
That seems obvious enough. So why in the midst of it all… was I creating theology based in my life experience? Based on fitting in with my neighbours? Based on ‘what feels right’, ‘sounds right’ or ‘fits right’. Why was I explaining away the wrath of God, so I didn’t upset the neighbours. So we could let everyone win.
Why did I fling myself at the mercy of my husband’s human guidance, in total desperation and anxiety… when there was a shelf of the living, breathing… Word Of God… sitting there all the time?