It’s my contention that in North America today, particularly in Ontario, the role of the parent is deeply undervalued. I could talk all day about the epidemic of absentee fathers, broken marriages, and the dismantling of the traditional family that is causing the foundations of our civilization to crumble – but I don’t really want to do that today. That’s a bummer topic for a beautiful spring day when we are meant to be celebrating mothers.
But I stand by my statement – that parents, even the role of mothers, is being undervalued by our society these days. I’ve talked a lot about the rise and curse of individualism over the past weeks so I won’t repeat that, but one of the effects of radical individualism is that people are distancing themselves from their mothers at very early ages and staying away.
Consider the expectations in the province of Ontario, right? As a girl grows up in this province it is very rare for them to consider being a full-time, stay-at-home mom, as a life-choice. We tell girls that they can be whatever they want to be and celebrate women of achievement in business, science, and athletics (which is great), but when we ask a girl, teen, or person in their 20s what they want to be when they grow up, the one seemingly unacceptable answer is “wife and mother”. “Ok, but’s fine to do on the side”, we respond, “but what do you really actually want to be?”
That’s why Rachel felt lost and discontent when she was forced to become a stay-at-home mom, right? She couldn’t process how being a mom would bring God more glory than her being in the workforce. Like many girls and women, she’d been conditioned for years that her greatest value was in her ability to gain a career, make money, and become a success.
I’ve talked to so many women who were taught that they need to be everything to everyone all the time – and they feel guilty no matter where they are. When she’s 10 she loves playing house and when she’s 16 years old it occurs to her that she would love to be a mom – but now somehow she feels bad saying so. Instead she feels pressure to find a “career path”. She doesn’t want to, but the idea of being a mom somehow feels counter-cultural, and the peer pressure is immense, so she goes to university to take something she is only sort-of interested in. When she’s at university her biology is telling her to find a husband, make some babies, and make a home – but somehow that also feels wrong too. She’s been told for so long that she’s supposed to want sex but not kids, boyfriends but not husbands, relationships but not marriage – that she pushes down her natural desires as unnatural and tries to distract and medicate her feelings away. She feels that quitting school to be a mom is somehow letting down all women everywhere. She feels guilty for wanting kids and sad for not having them. She feels guilty for not wanting to be at school but afraid of being stuck doing something she doesn’t even want to do. She feels shame for even wanting a husband to take care of her and that she can take care of, and is afraid that as time wears on that the deepest desires of her heart will never be met.
But she looks around and this whole province seems designed to keep her out of the home. The lifestyle most people desire here actually requires a dual income family. To stay home feels like a financial risk. That makes the government happy because they need you out there paying taxes and buying things – so they make it so you never even have to go home. IF you’re a normal couple, by the time you get around to having kids, you’re usually up to your eyeballs in mortgage and car debt, but ok, sure, have a baby, but you only get 55% of your income for 12 months, so you’d better get back to work or you’ll lose the house. But don’t worry, the government will pay for daycare. And when they’re older, they’ll pay for before school programs and after-school programs so you stay at work. And they’ll pay for community programs and all kinds of things so you can stay at work and never even have to see your kid. It’s almost like they’re saying, “Thank you for creating another citizen, now get back to work, we’ll take it from here.”
Being a mom seems not only counter-cultural but downright anti-establishment! Is it any wonder that there is time and research money going into developing artificial wombs? I know I sound like a tinfoil hat wearing nut, but I’ve already seen articles where feminists are championing these artificial wombs as amazing devices that can liberate women from the burden of childbirth so they can get rid of that pesky reproductive thing that keeps them from their career goals. One article was entitled “Artificial wombs could liberate elite women at the expense of the reproductive classes”. There’s a healthy level of moral insanity in that title that I don’t even want to get into.
Rachel’s discontent and deep question about her value as a mom are ones that many women these days understand: “Should I stay home with my kids? Is being just a mom enough? Why, when I go to work, do I want to be at home and when I stay home, I want to be at work? Why do I never feel like I’m in the right place doing the right thing?” Both stay-at-home moms and career women wonder if they’re achieving their purpose. And often, both are miserable.
It wasn’t until Rachel surrendered her discontentment to God and had that epiphany moment where she heard God speak to her that things started to change and the guilt and fear and discontentment started to subside. She said she felt God say, “I see you there and yes, you are valuable, you are important, you are doing what I want you to do, and you are in the right place. Yes, I’m with you, and despite your weaknesses and fears and temptations, you being a mom is exactly what I want you to be. It is exactly where I want you.”
Moms Show Us God
We should be championing the role of moms in our society – and I’m not just talking about biological mothers, though obviously, that’s a unique and very special bond. I’m talking about the women who give their lives to children as step-moms, adoptive moms, foster moms, and grandmothers. They have a special, unique role in this world that needs to be championed and protected. The maternal role can’t be replaced by dads or government agencies. It’s special, and the women who give their lives to be mothers are special people.
When scripture speaks of mothers it gives them unique characteristics, using them as examples, even to teach about God. In Deuteronomy 32:18 God describes himself in maternal terms saying, “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.” In Isaiah 49:15 God says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” Moms, especially biological moms but certainly all moms, have a special version of love and compassion for their children that no one else has – not even dads. There’s a bond there that is unlike any other. No matter how much you’ve messed up, your mom will never forget you. And so God says, “You are my kids. I birthed you. And just like it’s crazy to think of a mom forgetting and not having compassion on her crying, hungry, pained baby – it’s even crazier than you’d think I’d forget about you or stop loving you.”
God brought His son into the world using a human mother and that was a special relationship, even until Jesus’ death where Mary stood at the foot of the cross. As Jesus wept over Jerusalem He compared his love for them as being like a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wing. Paul actually used motherly terms a lot. He said the heavenly Jerusalem is called the “mother” of Christians (Gal 4:26) because she is where we will be protected and cared for. He said that at times he felt like planting churches felt like being a mother in labour and his teaching like nursing babies (Gal 4:19, 1 Thess 2:7)
There are negative examples too. When the leaders of Israel were sinning against the nation they were compared to an unfaithful mother who leaves their family to pursue selfish pleasures (Hos 2:2-5; Isa 50:1). The idea was meant to be outlandish and condemning, that a mom would choose to take off on her children to become a prostitute – but that’s what they were doing.
God’s Design for Moms
And so, for the little bit of time, we have left this morning I want to advocate for the position of mom as being something special, unique, and important – something that no one else can do. Maybe reverse a tiny bit of what culture is trying to do to moms these days.
Pregnancy is God’s Idea
First, we must realize that moms are God’s design. Eve was to be “the mother of all living” and the way she would have children would be, even in the Garden of Eden, would be to conceive a child inside her, to hold it for a long time in utero, and then to feed it with her own body until it was strong. That’s not a biological accident, it’s God’s design (Gen 3:16, 20). We know from nature that there are lots of options that God could have gone with for making babies, but He chose for babies to be literally inside their mothers, protected by them, feeding them from their own body’s nourishment, bound to them unlike anyone else.
That tells us something about what God wanted to do with motherhood – the bond he was creating between mother and child to teach us about the bond that God has with us. It’s deeper than any other relationship. Deeper than friendship, deeper even than marriage. And it’s a picture of God’s love for us – that He is our source, our provider, our protector, our comforter, and the one who loves us more than anyone – no matter what.
Moms Are Not Dads
The second thing is that moms are not dads. I believe that the Bible teaches that men and women are the same in some ways but different in others. We were not designed to be exactly equal, but to be complimentary – like two pieces of a puzzle.
Generally, moms are more nurturing and protective, dads are more about consequence. Moms are the ones who will ask everyday if you’ve had a shower, if you cleaned behind your ears, if you’ve washed your hands – dads won’t notice until you start to smell.
If a mom is cold, the whole family has to put on sweaters whether they like it or not. Why? Because she can’t help but want to protect her family. A dad is more likely to let you freeze and tell you it’s building character – and then when you turn blue from hypothermia say, “Well, you should have gotten a sweater.”
It’s been said that women civilize men, and that’s true of their families too. It’s the mom that is concerned about manners, proper dressing, what others think of you. It is from mom that we learn to give ourselves a once-over, check our teeth for parsley, ask ourselves what effect our clothes will have on others before we leave the house. Sure, that can get carried away, but it’s also a gift. The civility of culture is in large part connected to the civility of mothers. As mothers have gotten more self-centred, superficial, rude, impolite, and vulgar, so has society.
Mothers are more emotional and more empathetic. It is from the mom that you learn that it’s ok to cry and be comforted – and from the dad that sometimes you need to suck it up. The mom dotes over the sick child reminding them that they are cared for, the dad makes a joke and then pokes the part that hurts to remind them that life is pain.
Moms also have designed into them special kind of fragility. Now, I don’t want to get in trouble, and I’m sure I need to think this one through a bit more, but moms have a special kind of fragility that causes their sons, especially, to learn something about the world. You can wrestle and punch your dad, you can trade insults with your dad, you can tell your dad you hate his guts and wish he would drop dead – and he’ll roll with it. You can’t punch your mom, insult your mom, or tell your mom to drop dead – because it’ll cut her to the heart. A mom can get fierce when defending her children, but when it comes to her own children, she has a special kind of fragility that teaches the child something special about life that dads usually can’t. From your interactions with your mom you learn that your thoughts, your actions, your emotions are valid and important and powerful – she listens and feels along with you – but you also learn that they have consequence, because there are some things you can say or do that will leave scars in your mom that never fully heal. That’s a difficult, but necessary gift God gives people.
And of course, all this teaches us about God, right? As we watch our moms we learn what God is like. Though He tells us to address Him as male, God has no gender, and sometimes in the Bible presents Himself as having maternal characteristics. In the life of Jesus we see a man who men can relate to – a man who stood up to injustice, yelled at hypocrites, handcrafted a weapon and drove the evil out of His house, ordered demons around like a general commanding an army. But we also see maternal tears, deep compassion, overflowing love, high levels of empathy for others, a nurturing heart, willingness to express emotion and even fragility. No matter how messed up someone was, Jesus listened, and forgave, and restored, and loved, and protected. No matter how sick they were, no matter how contagious, He touched them – just like a mom would. No matter how much of an outcast they were, they found themselves accepted at Jesus’ side. We learn a lot about Jesus from moms.
Moms Are Human
And finally, I want to remind us that moms are human. I honestly feel bad for women today, especially moms, who are constantly bombarded with the message that they are not enough, that they don’t do enough, that if they just did more, things would be better, and that everything wrong with their family is somehow their fault.
A husband makes bad financial decisions and then guilts his wife into both working and keeping up the home. A messed up kid gets himself in trouble and then blames his mother for not being perfect. Internet articles telling women who have just had a baby that they need to look like supermodels and get back to work within six weeks. The church telling busy moms that they don’t host or serve enough. A hundred books and blogs and social media posts showing Instagram perfect homes and families that just telling them the dozens of things they are doing wrong.
We have to remember, and moms, you have to remember, that moms are human. We hold women to an impossibly high standard – and moms, sometimes, more-so. I’m pretty sure that every mom I know if you sit them down and ask them, will almost immediately tell you why they feel like a failure. They feel like a failure as a wife because they’re not fulfilling their husband’s needs. They feel like a failure as a homemaker because their home is messy and their kids eat too much processed food. They feel like a failure as a role model because they are tired and busy and think their kids are way behind where they should be. They feel like a failure as a Christian because they’re not reading their bible or praying or serving enough. They feel like a failure as a citizen because they want to volunteer but can’t. They feel like a failure with their own bodies because they don’t look the way they want to.
Moms, I want you to stop all that. What you are hearing is not the voice of God. It’s the same thing Rachel went through. Satan’s voice says, “Your husband doesn’t love you, your kids are stupid because of you, your house is disgusting because of you, your friends are all doing better than you, you’re fat and ugly, you’re lazy, your wrong, you’re not trying hard enough, you aren’t good enough, you’re the problem, and you should just quit.” That’s the devil sowing seeds of discouragement in your heart.
Mom, you’re human, and that’s ok. Kids, mom is human and that’s ok. Dads, mom is human and that’s ok. And to the mom’s, if you stop your guilt trip for a minute and listen to God’s voice, you will hear something very different.
You may feel like your messing everything up and the weight of the world is on your shoulders – that everything you do wrong will ruin your family. But Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Who gave you that child? God did. Gave you that family? God did. Who started that good work? God did. Who will bring it to completion? God will. Can you stop God? No. If God called you to be that person’s mom, He will equip you to do the job – and all the things you can’t do are things you’re not meant to do. God gets the glory because God does the work. You just need to admit your weakness and trust Him. Your weaknesses are not your fault and are not a reason to feel guilty. Your weaknesses are built into you so that you will learn humility and realize your need for God and others.
You may feel forgotten and unappreciated, but Hebrews 6:10 says, “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” The work you are doing, even the stuff you get zero credit for and no one even notices, is all taken into account by God and credited to you. He sees. He knows. He rewards. He is just.
You may feel exhausted, stressed out, and like you’re way behind, like you need another schedule, another plan, another set of hands, more hours in the day – and if you could just get that then you’d be under control – but listen to Psalm 127:1–2, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” And Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
The first and most important relationship you need to build is between you and God so you can understand that the safety of your children doesn’t depend on you but on God. The peace of your home and your own soul doesn’t depend on you, it depends on God. The building of your home and your family doesn’t depend on you alone, it depends on God.
That’s why it’s ok to nap sometimes, why it’s ok to step back, why it’s ok to release the worry – because God is real, God is strong, God is there, and God knows best. He acts on behalf of those who love Him.
When the apostles had returned to Jesus from their first mission, they were probably like kids after a long trip – a mixture of tired, excited, grumpy and happy – and it says in Mark 6:30–32,
“The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.”
You see how Jesus treats these guys? It was better for them to walk away from all the people and plans and bustle so they could be with Him. Why?
Another time, it says in Luke 10:38–42,
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’”
Why would Jesus rebuke Martha in this way? Because, if you seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and then all the things that you are worried about will come after (Matthew 6:33).
I know that moms are always worried that they aren’t doing enough and that somehow they are wrecking their kid’s future. Dads don’t feel this way all the time – we end up feeling it in retrospect as we look at the results of our parenting and wonder how we messed up our kids later.
But moms, you need to cut yourself some slack. You need to trust God and build your relationship with Him first. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Do you want your prayers for your family to have power? Then seek righteousness first. Put down the controls, stop guilt tripping yourself, stop listening to the voice of Satan, stop listening to culture and embrace one the greatest gifts imaginable – being a godly mom. I may not know everything about you, but I know this… with God, you are more than enough.
Abortion is a controversial, but incredibly important topic. Did you know that Canada is the only country in the western world without abortion legislation? This is the second of a two-part series where we are talking with Mike Schouten, Campaign Director of weneedaLAW.ca who’s mission is to build a groundswell of support from across Canada for abortion legislation.
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Abortion is a controversial, but incredibly important topic. Did you know that Canada is the only country in the western world without abortion legislation? This is the first of a two part series where we are talking with Mike Schouten, Campaign Director of weneedaLAW.ca who’s mission is to build a groundswell of support from across Canada for abortion legislation.
*** Plus, we announce our “Like and Share” contest winners! ***
How Can You Help Carnivore Theology?
1. Pray for us!
4. Share www.CarnivoreTheology.com with your friends. Sharing is caring!
5. Give financially: If you’d like to help us with our productiong costs, send us a financial gift through PayPal by clicking here. (We are not a registered charity, so you won’t get a tax receipt — but you will have the good feelings that come with helping out a friend!)
“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” (Mark 10:13-16)
This is a great passage of scripture, and I think it really shows how seriously Jesus takes ministry to children. Usually, when this passage is preached, the emphasis is on verse 15 where Jesus says, “…whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” which is an important point –but I don’t want to park there today. Instead, I want to look a little further back.
Children In Bible Times
Let’s start at verse 13. “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.”
It was a custom for parents to bring their children to Rabbi’s and holy men to ask to bless them, so it wasn’t totally strange that they would be doing this. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, was in his final days of teaching. They were on crowd-control. They were tired from the journey, worried about what would happen when they got there, and were probably trying to give Jesus some space to do more important things. They had a lot on their mind, and so did Jesus. So it only makes sense that they would try to only let the most important people, the sick, the local leaders, the ones that needed Jesus most, through.
After all, these were only kids, people 12 and under. Children weren’t treated very well in ancient society. It wasn’t as bad among the Jews, but the treatment of children was very bad among the pagan nations. Evil. They were, essentially, non-persons – property of their fathers or their slave-masters. In Roman culture,
“…an infant could be abandoned without penalty or social stigma for many reasons, including an anomalous appearance, being an illegitimate child or grandchild or a child of infidelity, family poverty, parental conflict or being one of too many children.” (source)
This was normal then, so the disciples weren’t being offensive to the crowd. Everyone would have understood that kids weren’t as important as adults. Everyone would have realized the disciples were doing the right thing in letting the important people come first. Everyone unerstood why the disciples “rebuked” the parents who were wasting Jesus’ time.
But there was someone there that didn’t agree with what the disciples were doing.
Jesus was Indignant
“But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them…”
A fascinating word pops up there to describe what was going on in Jesus heart and mind when He sees his disciples rebuking the people who were trying to bring their children to Him… “Indignant”. It’s the Greek word “AGANEKTEO” which is a very descriptive word.
Its the word used to describe how the Pharisees felt when Jesus rode into town on the donkey and they heard the crowds crying out “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matt 21:15), They were “Indignant”. It’s the word used of the disciples when they saw James and John ask to be Jesus’ top-disciples (Matt 26:8). It’s the word used of the ruler of the synagogue who saw Jesus heal the man on the Sabbath (Luke 13:14).
The Greek version of the Old Testament uses the word to describe how the brothers of Dinah felt when their sister was seduced and defiled. They were “indignant and very angry” (Gen 34:7). And it’s used over and over to describe God’s feelings toward unrepentant, stubborn hearts:
“But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation.” (Jer 10:10)
It’s a powerful word, full of emotion, and here’s it’s used to describe how Jesus feels about people who get between Him and the children who want to come to Him. I hope you get an appreciation for that word. You can’t read these words of Jesus in a grandfatherly voice that says, “Oh, it’s ok. Let them come to me…” No, these are words of rebuke! “Peter, James, John, all the rest of you — GET OUT OF THEIR WAY and LET THE CHILDREN COME TO ME. DO NOT HINDER THEM…”
Jesus didn’t see these kids as less important than the adults around them. He didn’t see them as less significant than the leaders, parents or disciples. No, He saw them as exactly the kind of people that He had come to be with. They were weak, helpless, dependent and in need of a saviour, a defender, a redeemer and friend. And as he look at them He saw a group of people who were coming to him with pure intentions, just longing to be with Him, to discover Him, to know Him, to be blessed by Him. They didn’t want a show, they wanted the One who was there. These parents just wanted the touch of Jesus in on their children’s lives. These children just wanted to be around Jesus.
And then He saw His own disciples getting in their way and rebuking them for coming, it enraged Him.
And what did these kids see? They saw Jesus look square at his disciples and rebuke them for not letting them come to him. This could have been the first time in their lives that they were treated as the highest priority. These adults were getting yelled at because they were telling the kids to go away. I can just imagine the looks on the 10 and 12 year old boys that had been rebuked just that morning for breaking a dish or not doing their chores. Now they’re looking at each other, eyes wide and mouths open as they watch Jesus tear a strip off these adults for getting in their way. That probably made their day.
Children as a Commodity
We can criticize ancient cultures for how poorly they treated children, but it’s not much better today, is it? A lot of people still treat children as commodities and excess baggage. They are drains on our finances. They are problems to be eliminated. They are property to be shown off or discarded when they are inconvenient.
In Canada 100,000 lives lost to abortion every year. About 25,000 babies were murdered in Ontario last year – and the government, your taxes – paid for it. No, we’re not talking about the extreme cases of rape and incest, or the women or baby has health problems – that only accounts for about 7%. Let me give you the top reasons for why women have abortions – and this is from an abortion advocacy group!
“Relationship Issues” – Her parents and/or the man who impregnated her doesn’t want her to keep it. This isn’t condemning the woman, but more often the man. He finds out she’s pregnant, dumps her and runs, or says he’ll leave her if she has a baby.
Another reason is “Financial and Practical reasons”. In other words, I can’t afford a baby, so it’s better to kill it. According to one sight I read 21% of women said they aborted because they couldn’t afford a baby. Just to be clear, that’s over 20,000 babies a year, murdered because they would be too expensive. 16% said they aborted because “their life would change too much”, 8% said “they have all the children they want”. These children aren’t seen as babies, but commodities. If we want it, then it’s a celebration with parties and balloons. If we don’t then it’s just dispose of it.
Another popular reason is that the woman isn’t “ready to provide for and meet the physical and emotional needs of a child.” Especially if the child has some sort of special needs. In their deranged minds, these men and woman think, “I’m not ready for responsibility. I won’t do a good job with this kid. I’m not ready for this level of commitment. I’m still living my own life and this will mess me up. And since I’m not ready – it’s better for the child if I kill it in advance.”
CBC reported this week that deadbeat parents – 97% of which are dad’s – owe 3.7 billion dollars in support payments for their kids. So not only are these men running away from the women and children before they’re born, but even after! They can’t even be bothered to send the most minimal, financial help– even after the courts of ordered them to. Reminds me of 1 Timothy 5:8,
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
If you don’t take care of your family – including your kids, you’re worse than a pagan. No Christian should ever be a deadbeat mom or dad.
But this is happening every day. Dad’s abandon their women and children, and mom’s killing their babies – not for health reasons or because of incest and rape – but because they don’t want the baby to affect their lifestyle. The height of selfishness and pride meted out on helpless children. These people idolize their life so much that they are willing to give the blood sacrifice of their own babies to the god of their lifestyle.
It’s no different than the Israelites who saught to appease the false god Molech who demanded that they take their newborn babies, place them on the arms of the carved idol, and watch them burn to death. (Lev 18:21) Let me read to you a description :
“It is believed that idols of Molech were giant metal statues of a man with a bull’s head. Each image had a hole in the abdomen and possibly outstretched forearms that made a kind of ramp to the hole. A fire was lit in or around the statue. Babies were placed in the statue’s arms or in the hole. When a couple sacrificed their firstborn, they believed that Molech would ensure financial prosperity for the family and future children.” (source 1, source 2)
It’s the same, isn’t it? Sacrificing babies so that the parents can have more money for themselves and perhaps their future children.
This is what made the worship of Molech so reprehensible to God, and such a danger to the Israelites. They are warned in the law not to do this (Lev 18:21) and are commanded to destroy anything that has to do with Molech. Over and over the Israelites and their kings fell into the worship of Molech – but why?
Because some people are able to overlook the preciousness of their baby when it means they have to make personal or financial sacrifice. For some terrible reason there are people choose money, comfort, and lifestyle over the life of their child. (Click to tweet this quote)
The dads who abandon their children so they can live free from responsibilities are worshippers of Molech. The women who kill their children because they don’t want to change their lifestyle are worshippers of Molech. The parents who choose their work, their toys, their retirement savings, their vacations, over having children are worshippers of Molech.
Jesus prioritizes children and gives them high value. Demons are the ones who tell us that kids aren’t important – or are less important than we are.
Just Kids? Not to Jesus
“And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” (vs 16)
Every kid that came, in succession, was held, hugged, and blessed. Jesus was ministering to these kids.
“He took them into his arms.”
This wasn’t just a formal dedication ceremony. How many times have you heard the word “just” used to describe ministry to children and youth? It’s just Sunday School. It’s just the youth group. The adults have gathered for worship – what are we going to do with the kids? Who cares as long as their quiet and not interrupting the sermon, right? After all, they’re just kids. It’s not like they’re important, right?
They don’t tithe. They don’t sit on the leadership boards. They don’t contribute to the potluck. They interrupt. They ask dumb questions. They’re noisy and need to be removed. They’re annoying and need to be distracted. Just get them out of here so the important adults can have their time with Jesus.
But what did Jesus do? He angrily rebuked the adults with that attitude, told them to get out of the way, brought each child into His arms, prayed for them, blessed them, laid His hands on them, and loved them. One by one He ministered to them and showed them how high of a priority they are to him. They weren’t in the way. Not at all.
Within a few verses Jesus will be walking into Jerusalem. The Triumphal Entry is in the next chapter. Did Jesus have a lot on His mind? You bet! Did He have places to be? Absolutely! Did Jesus stop everything to show love to the kids, and teach us that children are a huge priority to Him? Definitely.
God Loves Kids
Why did He stop? Not only to teach us something. He stopped because Jesus is God and God loves kids.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3)
“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.” (Proverbs 17:6)
When Jesus saw these kids, He saw a reward, a gift, and a blessing from Heaven. Children and grandchildren are not a burden, they are a gift! Hearing a woman is pregnant is never, ever bad news. (Click to tweet this quote)
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:13-16)
Do you see the delicacy and intimacy with which God is involved in the design of every single baby? God knows every single one of those kids from the atomic level up. He knows every thought, every dream, every fear, every joy, every tear.
It was an absolute joy for Jesus to wrap His arms around these children because He knew that God had specially created every single one of them to be exactly who they were. They were special creations, and Jesus took great joy in them.
Don’t Mess with Jesus’ Kids
And with that in mind, I want to turn somewhere else to look at Jesus’ attitude toward kids.
“And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’ And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.’” (Mark 9:33-37)
Now skip to verse 42. Nowhere in the narrative does it say that Jesus has moved. This is the same conversation. Presumably, it could be a little baby, cradled in in his arms, or a little toddler sitting on his lap… and Jesus looks from the child to the crowd around Him and says,
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)
In the account of this story in Matthew 18, in the next verse Jesus says,
“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” (Matthew 18:7)
How serious does Jesus take the ministry to children? He says that it would be better that we would die than to cause a child to turn from God. There are massive, eternal consequences waiting for people who cause children to fall away from faith, who teach them falsehood, or who tempt them to sin. Woe to anyone who leads a child away from Jesus.
Only a few verses later in Matthew 18, the same child still cradled in Jesus arms, we read Him saying,
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones.” (Matthew 18:10a)
To “Despise” means “to look down on”, “think little of”, “disrespect”, or “take lightly”.
Can you see Jesus looking at this little baby or a toddler, stroking his little cheek, and looking directly at the people around Him and saying in a very serious tone, “Don’t take the ministry and care of these children lightly, because God doesn’t. Don’t disrespect these kids. Don’t look down on children, no matter how small.” And then He tells them why.
Keep reading in verse 10,
“For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”
This isn’t just a verse about guardian angels, it’s a threat. These aren’t fat little cherubs that float around baby-cribs. These are the divine armies of God, terrible in power and terrifying to all who see them. God assigns these special guards to look over His little ones and no one gets away with anything when it comes to them. God gets a full report of everything everyone does or says to that baby, that toddler, that child.
And then He tells a story we’re all very familiar with.
“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:12-14)
Does that shed new light on this story? The picture Jesus paints is one of a shepherd who searches high and low for his lost sheep and then celebrates when he finds it. But God isn’t looking for lost sheep, is He? No… He’s saying, “This is how I guard these little ones. Even more than a good shepherd loves the littlest lamb, I love these children. I don’t want any of them to fall away from me. I have my eye on all of them. Each of them has an angel to protect them. I love them with a jealous, passionate love. So. Don’t. Mess. With. Them!”
Now, go back in your mind to our first story where the disciples are rebuking the parents and children for coming to Jesus. Can you see why He was so angry? Someone is messing with His kids.
Our God Given Responsibility to Children
And the bad news is that people are really messing children today. Deadbeat dads, abortive moms, abusive parents, divorcing spouses, neglectful churches. This is a terrible time to be a kid. Judgment is coming on those who mess with or don’t look after the children of this world, but in the meantime they have been given to us, God’s church, as a joy and a responsibility. And not just our own biological children! Taking care of fatherless children is a major theme in scripture. Let me close with a few scriptures to remind us of our responsibilities to kids.
In the Garden of Eden, in Genesis 1:28, God blessed Adam and Eve and then said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion…” Having children was our first job, taking care of the world our second. I can’t see how that has changed. Those of us who have the ability also have the responsibility to have kids, by the command of God.
Canada has one of the worst birth rates in the world! We don’t even want kids! What a moral bankruptcy that has come upon us that having kids would be seen as such a terrible thing.
And when we have those kids, we have a responsibility to teach them. To the Israelites God said in Deuteronomy 6:4-9,
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
God commands parents to make sure their children are absolutely saturated with the reason for their existence—to “love the LORD [their] God with all [their] heart and with all [their] soul and with all [their] might.” Everywhere they go, in their daily conversation with mom and dad, in their education and hobbies and decisions – written on the very walls of their homes – is the reminder that they exist by the will and for the pleasure of God. They don’t exist as an extension of us, parents. They’re not little you’s and me’s. They are created in God’s image.
Proverbs 22:6 says,
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
That’s tells us that we need to be consistent, for their whole young lives. We don’t have the right to get exasperated and give up on guiding and training the child. And it means we don’t leave it to others either. God gave those kids to us, and so it’s our job to train them up. If we leave it to the world to do it, then the world will certainly train them to be worldly. If we give them to the pagans to train, they will become pagans.
It also means that we believe that we need to be diligent. We’re can’t just turn them loose to figure themselves out. “I’ll let them decide for themselves what religion, or gender, or whatever they want to be” isn’t an option. If we want them to grow up to be good, strong,, studious, hard-working, faithful, men and women of Christian character, then we need to train them up in the way they should go! That means that we guide them along that way.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
This means that when we parent – and by extension when we grandparent or minister to children — we do it with abundant love, grace, sensitivity and care.
Without a doubt, we are to take their life and rearing seriously, and to guide them diligently. We have been given the right and privilege of being the “fountains of domestic authority” but that doesn’t give us license to let our passions run away with us so we make their lives miserable. We don’t over-indulge them and let them become sinful, spoiled pigs, but we don’t make their life miserable either. We pour out love and grace, living with a good temper and reasonable expectations.
I know we’ve covered a lot today, but if you take away anything, please remember how much Jesus loves children, and so we are to love them too. They are a priority to Him, so they are important to us. They are a blessing, a joy and a responsibility that we have been given. So let us embrace them, hold them in our arms, bless them, and thank God for them.