14 May 2021
It’s a familiar scene: the anxious, shuffling child, the lack of eye contact, the missing item, the reluctance, the embarrassment, then – finally - the confession. “The boy at school laughed at my …. coat / bike / water bottle / lunch box / trainers / hairstyle / face.” This week, for us, it’s the coat.
How do we as Christian parents respond?
Buy them a new one? Tell them the kid in school is an idiot? Tell them not to be ridiculous? Tell them there are many in the world who do not have a coat at all? Hug them? Tell them you love them and their coat? Tell them to leave the coat at home and freeze so they learn what a coat is for? Or just ignore them…
I have tried all of these things (and worse) on different days. Talking about the coat always happens at the critical ‘we need to get out of the door’ moment. This isn’t usually the best time for helpful conversation, even before you add in mother lioness emotions - "SOMEONE UPSET YOU? I’LL KILL THEM!'
So, between the last drama and the next one, I’m taking time to stop and think. What is the better story my son and your daughter need to hear, when this happens again? It might seem a trivial thing to apply our brains and the Bible to, but for our children, when it happens, it’s everything. We want to show them that faith in Jesus makes a difference in our lives and hearts, in all our everyday struggles.
So what does God think of your coat?
Erm, well, I don’t know,
He probably thinks it’s alright?
Why would he think it was alright?
Because it does its job?
Yep – we bought that coat for your brother, and it kept him warm and dry. It’s keeping you warm and dry. It’s been up mountains, on beaches, by rivers, on bike rides, up trees. It’s a good coat because it is doing what it was made to do really well. But we can’t look up a bible verse that tells us specifically about wearing coats at primary school. Does that mean we on our own? Does God care about this coat problem?
I don’t know – probably not. Hasn’t he got bigger things to worry about?
No, He cares, He is 100%, all in, interested in you and what is going on in your life. He fully understands our coat problems – he even made sure the story about the drama with Joseph’s coat and the jealous brothers was written down in the Bible! God sees how our world and hearts are broken. He knows that people are mean, act unkindly, live for what doesn’t last and value things more than people. He knows that we do those things, too. God doesn’t ignore all that – in fact, he came and lived right in the middle of it.
• Jesus understands that horrible feeling when you are being laughed at by others. He was laughed at, looked down on and spat on.
• Jesus challenges how we think about stuff – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth”.
• Jesus teaches us how to think about ourselves - “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
• Jesus enables us to treat others better than they treat us – “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”
• Best of all, because of his saving work, Jesus has made you his brother. You belong in God’s family. His Spirit is at work in your heart to remind you of what is true. When you feel rubbish, because someone is laughing, remember your Father in heaven’s beautiful words – “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; YOU ARE MINE”.
So, what does God think of your coat? Well, he hasn’t told us, so we’ll just have to work it out from what he has said. But what God thinks of you is way more exciting. You are HIS – and that won’t change whether you’re in a designer label, or rags.
Wear your coat, don’t wear your coat, love your coat, hate your coat but whatever you do, remember that your true eternal value lies comes from the opinion of the God who made you, not the kid in your class. Your name is on a peg in the Father’s house, where one day you will hang a robe and crown that Jesus gives you.