Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to "give your kids a bath"...spiritually...

We're all familiar with verses like these that refer to our needing to be "cleansed" from sin:

Acts 11:9
But a voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’

2 Corinthians 7:1

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

2 Timothy 2:21

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

Hebrews 9:14
how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

1 John 1:7
but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

These are just examples...there are many many places that the Bible equates being "in sin" with "being dirty" and that we get "cleansed" from it...

So, let's talk about "cleansing"...

We are God's children…and He cleanses us. So, how does He do that? How do we figure that out?

Romans 1:19-20 says:
"that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

If we wanna know what it looks like when God cleanses us…Romans 1 tells us that we can see that in the Creation. So, if we look at the physical world and how "cleansing" occurs…we will see how God cleanses us and we will learn something about "sin".

Without getting "too technical"…we can say that we need cleansed from things which are not part of us. Things which are foreign to us which have gotten onto us and "defiled" us in some way. First off, very simply and easily this tells us that if we need to get "cleansed from sin" that sin is not something that is a natural part of us. Sin is a foreign substance which gets on us somehow and dirties us. It is not an innate inborn part of us.

What would be part of the "procedure" for cleansing?

Cleansing your car
Get out a soft cloth or sponge (so as to not damage the paint) and you use a lot of water and you rub every square inch of that vehicle and rinse it.

Cleansing your clothing
You put them into a machine that gently agitates them in a lot of water. Delicate plates are not put in.

Cleansing your carpet
You first use a vacuum that runs across it combing/brushing it and sucking out the dirt and then you use another machine which does the same only with water.

Cleansing your dishes
You use a soft cloth or sponge and soap and massage the dishes with water or put them into a washer which squirts water on them.

Cleansing your kitchen appliances like your refrigerator
You get cloth out (that's soft to not damage it) and you wipe it down with something water-based or with water.

Cleansing windows
You get a mac. Just kidding. You use a soft cloth to prevent scratching the glass and wipe water (with chemicals).

For things we care about we clean them mostly with water, by rubbing them down with something that will not damage them. Special attention is paid to not hurt, mar, or damage things.

Would you ever cleanse your car, clothes, carpet, dishes, kitchen appliances by hitting them with sticks? Hitting them with a baseball bat? Scratching them with abrasive steel wool? The only time harsh cleansers are ever used on anything is if the harshness of the cleanser will only effect the dirt and not the item being cleaned.

Now, what about our children? When they get dirty what's the best way to clean them? Normally, we fill up a tub of comfortably and pleasurably warm water and we plop our naked kid into the water. We get down on our hands and knees and take soap and something which won't scratch their skin and we basically give them a full body massage. We rub every part of their body down and rinse them thoroughly with water. When not giving them this massage we play with them. And, then, when we take them out of the tub after they've been cleansed they are happy, relaxed, and ready to rest.

What if you found out that the soap you use on your child is actually burning their skin? Will you continue to use it? What if the cloth you used to clean them was too abrasive and scratched them and they were unhappy and saying, "ow". Would you stop using it? What if you plopped them into the water and they began to scream, "no! no!" and they jumped back out of the tub (in defiance of what you'd just done with them) because the water was hurting them?

You realize, of course, that my point is about "spanking" and other forms of discipline. 
Most Christian parents believe that it is their job to "beat Adam" out of their child or to rid their child of sin. But, just look at a couple of these verses again:

1 John 1:7
but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin…just how is that? Does Jesus "beat us", "shame us", "punish" us, "lay down the law", "ground us", "give us more rules" or put us in the "time-out chair" with His blood? 

Of course that's ridiculous. 
So, then why do so many parents who desire to live godly and raise up kids as Jesus would...do all those things?

Jesus is our example as to how to live…
God cleanses us from sin…
The Creation tells us the truth about God…

So, factoring in all those things, what should a "cleansing" (disciplinary) moment include?

"Warm water"
Do your kids feel they are stepping into a pleasant atmosphere that gives them relief from their stress, pain, and dirt...or do they enter into a disciplinary moment with you knowing "they're in HOT WATER!"

Do your kids insist on remaining "covered" and refuse to "bare it all?" Do they kick and scream and lie and rationalize what they've done?

So, what's your "posture" when your kids "are dirty" and you're "cleansing" them? Are you looming above them and disconnected from them? Or, are you "on their level"...humble and "on your knees" touching them gently with your hands?

When we rub our kids down with a bath scrunchie or sponge or wash cloth, it releases a pleasant odor (soap) and it massages their whole body. It feels good. It gets their blood flowing. It releases healthy relaxing chemicals into their systems AND it releases "oxytocin" into their system which is the hormone "of love"...Studies have shown that (for example) if a waitress touches her guests that her tips will increase. Why? Because touch stimulates trust. So, in the way you touch your children thru the "cleansing" process do you stimulate their minds, hearts, relaxation, love, bonding and trust?

Cleansing time is also a fun time. Bubbles. Toys. Is there any joy in your disciplinary moments?

Ultimately, a child leaves a bathtub (often reluctantly) clean, smelling good, happy, relaxed and refreshed. This is literal cleaning. Spiritual cleaning should look the same. The result of any disciplinary situation when it's over the child should be smiling and relaxed just like when you take them out of the tub. Maybe even resistant to letting the moment end because it has been such a good experience they don't want it to be over. 

(A good example of this is the scene in the Lion King when Mufasa takes Simba off alone to "teach him a lesson" about disobedience)

Most commonly, unfortunately, the way parents "cleanse" their children... would be more like filling the tub with painfully hot water and forcing the child to sit in it without protesting even though it's hurting him…while the parent stands over them with an extension pole and brillo pad on the end scrubbing the child's skin as they cry. Any protest or rejection of this by the child is seen as "rebellion" and the water is made hotter and the brillo pad is exchanged for steel wool until the child passively accepts the pain. Then, when the child has been sufficiently "humbled" and has cried enough and suffered enough, THEN, they are considered cleansed. But, reality is that all that has happened to the child is that they've been hurt, and even scarred, by what the parent has just done; not cleansed of anything.

Being set free from "sin" is something we all should WANT to do...and we all generally do NOT want to do things that hurt. Our brains are designed to avoid pain. So, think about what you are doing for your child's future...if bathing was like this would YOU want to ever cleanse yourself from anything? I wouldn't. I would do anything to avoid bathing and found simply focus on trying to cover up my filth. And, so spiritually being cleansed this way as a child is surely going to train them one thing: getting caught with "dirt" on you hurts. Their brains are wired that pain is to be avoided. So they'll learn that it's better to just hide your dirt.

Next time you are bathing your child…think about what everything you're doing would "look like" if it were a disciplinary situation. And, likewise next time you are "disciplining" your child think about what everything your doing would look like as a "bath". Put the two together correctly and you will be well on your way to parenting like God...and growing up a child who will become an adult who looks forward to ridding themselves of bad attitudes, unhealthy behaviors, etc...an adult who looks forward to "bathing"...

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