Tena Stone is OneHope’s Vice President of Training and Research Initiatives. I’ve invited her to share her unique perspective on Christian parenting.
In a world obsessed with self-identifying, Genesis 1:26 reminds us there is no such thing. It is impossible to give yourself an identity. We are images. Our identity is rooted in reflecting something outside of ourselves. We are God’s image bearers.
What exactly does that mean? In the ancient world kings often claimed to be God and they ruled under this authority. Additionally, they couldn’t be everywhere in their kingdom, so they created images of themselves to remind everyone of ‘the god’ who was ruling. In Gen 1:26 God says, “Let us make man in our image …to have dominion…” This is one reason why God’s people were never to make idols to represent him. They themselves were to be the image of God – to have authority and to remind people of the God they could not see. The One who rules over all.
One way to understand your calling as a parent is to see your task as nothing less than raising the image of God. Let that sink in – pretty weighty, right? The weight of it is also clarifying. The truest truth about your child is not how you feel about them or how they feel about themselves. Their Creator has identified them, stated who they are and what they are. They are His image.
Your deepest responsibility to your children is not to take them on a journey of self-discovery, but a journey of God discovery. It is not to shape them, but to show them the shape they are to reflect. This is a sacred calling fulfilled best by understanding that you, parent, are created to be an image bearer too. When you fail and distort that image (and you often will), point them to the One who never did. The One who walked this earth not just to save us, but to show us what an image bearer was meant to be. God always means for us something larger than we mean for ourselves. We are meant for more as parents and so are our children. Raise an image bearer.