I drove the bus after church last night to get a load of kids home. As I drove I heard a children’s leader make this standing agreement with the kids: If you do not get up before bus stops you get a blow pop. This was not the first time this agreement had been made. In fact this agreement has been made for a month now and the kids were asked if they understood and agreed.
They all said they did.
After the 2nd or 3rd stop I noticed the leader get up and walk to the back (No candy for her! ;-)). She told a few of them they would not get the treat because they did not follow the terms of the agreement. They whined. Then they asked if they could earn it back. I was very proud of her to not back down. She said “No, not tonight.” They griped about this response. She told them that they could try again next week but this time they would not get a treat. They did not get the treat.
Why is this important?
1. People need to know the boundaries. Whether you are a child or Putin, boundaries need to be established. Scripture teaches that before time began God set boundaries up for the angels. In Genesis, God set boundaries for Adam and Eve. In Exodus, God set boundaries for His people. In Leviticus, God set boundaries on worship. God set boundaries for the Monarchy. Paul sets boundaries for the church. It is quite evident that boundaries need to be established so everyone knows the game. The Budapest Memorandum of 1994 set the boundaries for the current strife in Crimea.
2. Boundaries need to be enforced. Our children’s leader stood up and reminded everyone what the agreement was, what happened, who crossed the line, and exacted the consequence of no treat. In answer to questions from the crowd, she remarked that they had agreed to this before and also tonight and they were old enough to understand and obey. No treat was given. Putin needs to understand that while stealing a NFL Superbowl ring is poor judgment, breaking this agreement has dire consequences. Jesus said, “Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.” If everyone agreed to this, enforce the boundary.
3. Punishment is harder on the parent than the child. I have often been heard saying that we should not play big brother to the world when 1 out of 6 kids go hungry in our own country. The context of those statements come when we seem to desire to get involved where we have not been asked or engaged before. This current struggle is different. We have an agreement on the table. Integrity, which we often lack in the USA, is at stake. For those who, though wrong, believe that everyone in America is a Christian, we have a problem. While we may not be a “Christian nation” must anymore, we still have a rich history of Judeo-Christian values. If we have already committed, we are committed. Backing out now could cause missiological repercussions. If we cannot be trusted, then our missionaries could have a more difficult time sharing the Gospel.
Our Foreign Policy often is awkward. The agreement has not been ratified and is not “absolutely” legally binding. Putin is on the extreme side of pushing that boundary. The U.S. is not sure what to do. Parenting Putin is something that must be done. Would you agree?