“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.” Bill Cosby received a lot of flak when he said this to his son Theo during his family TV show.* Of course, he didn’t make the saying up; a lot of parents bully their kids this way. They don’t literally mean that they will kill them, but when little children hear it, they realize how powerless they are, basically at their parents’ mercy. Why do parents say things like this, then? Because they themselves feel their authority is threatened, and they pull out their might-makes-right trump card.
In a sense, God is the only Parent who can legitimately say this. He did bring us into the world, and some day he will take us out. For people who are aware of him only as a distant force, this may come across as a threat of final judgment. But for those of us who have a personal relationship with him through faith, the I-can-take-you-out phrase gives us great comfort, because he has promised to take us out into a place he has prepared for us.
Other phrases parents commonly use to keep their kids in line have special significance when it’s God who speaks them. For instance,
“Because I said so!” is used by parents when they want to end the conversation and have the last word. God is really the only Parent who has an absolute right to say this, but he doesn’t usually assert that right. Sometimes, we are surprised to hear him say, “Come let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18-19). In his conversation with the Old Testament patriarch Job, it’s amazing how far he allowed his human child to go in arguing and complaining. It seems that Because I said so! is a last resort in our Father’s conversations with us.
“When I was your age…” This is not something God is likely to say, as he is the one who is consistently the same, “from age to age” (Psalm 90:2, Luke 1:50). Our heavenly Father has seen it all, over and over again, and our feeble attempts to blaze a new path through life’s maze must amuse him.
“Clean your plate; think of all the starving children in Africa.” If our kids don’t like the spinach we put on their plates, they’d be glad to send a care-package across the Atlantic. But our heavenly Parent is personally acquainted with every one of those starving children, so you’d better not be flippant about them with him.
“This hurts me more than it hurts you.” I’ve known parents to say this just before administering a spanking. I don’t think the child who has assumed the position ever believes it, but most parents really don’t take pleasure in applying discipline. Our heavenly Father showed the profound depth of his love by actually taking the punishment on himself. Jesus looks down from the cross and speaks literally when he says, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.”
— Pastor George Van Alstine
*https://youtu.be/nFY0HBkUm8o?t=4m14s He also uses the “Because I said so” line.