Parenting

Common to Man: The Process of Sanctification

Posted on Updated on

39 - Common to Man

Audio:

Text:

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-13)

Mortification of Sin

We’re jumping in and continuing on from last week, still on the topic of self-discipline and are continuing our discussion of what it means to take following Jesus seriously.

When we become a Christian and start following Jesus we are given an inward drive towards becoming more like Jesus – more holy, more righteous, more loving. “Be holy as I am holy”, God says to His people, and then gives us the help to do that.

We’ve talked before that we don’t do this in order to get saved but out of love and obedience for the One who saved us. We know we’ll never achieve perfection in this life, and that, because of our sinful nature we’re going to keep breaking God’s laws and doing wrong – but now that we are Christian we hate that sinful part of us, because it was sin that has messed up the world, our lives, and is what required Jesus to die on the cross. So we confess those sins every day in prayer, are thankful that God’s grace is so big and that the blood of Jesus covers all our sins past and future so we can be forgiven, and then we ask God for more help, more love, more patience, more kindness, more generosity, more self-control in the coming day to live better. Not just to be a holier than thou Christian prude, but because we’ve seen how sin hurts us, others, and our relationship with God.

That’s how Christians see sin. That’s why we work hard to get rid of the sins in our life – what believers used to call the “mortification of sin”. We work with God to try to mortify, or kill, or subdue, the fleshly, sinful desires inside us that cause so much trouble.

God uses some pretty serious, life and death language when speaking of how we should deal with our sin and practice self-control. Listen to Colossians 3:1-6 says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these, the wrath of God is coming.”

Sanctification

So, because sin is so serious, a believer engages in a process called sanctification. To sanctify something means to set it apart for special use, to be made holy. Grandma’s special china collection is sanctified by the fact that it is cleaned and then kept carefully in a china cabinet. Your favourite hockey card is sanctified by you taking it from the collection, putting it into a special protective case, and then mounting it on the wall. You are sanctified by Jesus as you are taken from the enemy camp into his kingdom, from death to life, from slave to sin to freedom in Christ, and made one of His special people.

If you remember way back in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 it told us, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”

We cannot be righteous without Jesus. We can’t redeem ourselves. And we cannot purify or sanctify ourselves without Jesus. The Gospel of Christ tells us the consequences of our sins – death, hell, pain, suffering, fear, addiction, brokenness. It tells us that Jesus has come to save us from all that by taking the penalty for sin upon Himself, wiping out its effects by taking God’s wrath against sin for us, dying on the cross, and then rising again to show that He has destroyed sin’s power – and then invites us to follow Him. This is what it means to be born again. When we are chosen by God and accept His invitation we are immediately sanctified. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice made it so that all our sins are perfectly dealt with and if we died today we would be with Jesus forever.

But at the same time, while we still live on earth we continue to deal with the echo effects of sin all around us. So, while we are perfectly clean in God’s eyes, perfectly accepted, perfectly redeemed, we also enter the process of sanctification in order to become more like Jesus every day. We use a lot of different phrases to describe this today. We talk about growing in God or becoming spiritually mature, but whatever we call it, part of that process is the mortification, or killing, of the sinful parts of ourselves that affect our daily walk in this world. We will never become perfect, but we continue to struggle against and work towards holiness. We “put to death therefore what is earthly in [us]…”

Going Through the Motions

Now, just like today, some of the people in the Corinthian church thought that since they professed faith in Jesus, went to church, and joined in the Lord’s Supper, they could then live however they wanted. Remember the context of eating meat offered to idols and causing those around them to stumble in their faith by going against their consciences. They figured that since they were Christians, they could do whatever they wanted! Paul wanted them to be absolutely clear that wasn’t true, it was a false belief, and so he used multiple examples

This still happens today. Young people who have gone to church their whole life are especially in danger of this way of thinking. They have gone to church for as long as they can remember, can quote verses from the Bible, serve in a couple places each week, go to Youth Group or Small Group, they can answer some Bible Trivia questions and take communion each month… so they figure they’re good. They’re covered.

The Bible says, be careful. There’s a big difference between saving faith and merely going through the motions of a believer. Of course, this isn’t just about youth. I’ve seen this at all ages. People who attend sometimes, do a little volunteer work, and say they believe… maybe they even had a tearful conversion at a summer camp or walked down an aisle at a crusade – but they’re not engaged in the daily battle against sin. And they’re not just disengaged, they don’t actually care.

This is most acute when the young person turns 18 and moves out or goes off to college or starts a job and is getting paid and is then given the freedom of an adult. Suddenly it becomes clear that their faith is extremely thin, they haven’t been working on their sanctification at all, and within a short time, they are in real trouble. They weren’t Christians, they were merely covered by the grace of their Christian parents.

It wasn’t they that decided not to look at pornography, it was the fact that it wasn’t available in the house. It wasn’t they that decided not to waste hours on the internet and video games, it was their parent’s rules and schedules. It wasn’t they that decided to watch their tongue, it was the peer pressure from their Christian friends. It wasn’t they that decided reading the Bible. going to church, being cautious about friendships, and the rest was important, it was enforced in by house rules.

And when they get that first taste of freedom from those rules, their true level of sanctification really shows. Soon they are addicted, indebted, depressed, lethargic, have turned their back on the church, and have just enough understanding of God to blame and resent Him for all their problems. Again, I don’t want to pick on just young people, I’ve seen this in seniors too, where the only thing that kept them from blowing up their life was external pressure, not internal sanctification.

This too is all over scripture. The wheat and the chaff, the good seeds and bad, parable of the sower, the sheep and the goats, wolves in sheep’s clothing, whitewashed tombs, play actors (Matt. 3:12; 13:1-30; 5:15; 25:31-46; 23:25-27) are all phrases where Jesus talks about people that look like Christians to everyone else but are not really saved. These people talk about God, come to church, and receive the blessings of being a Christian without ever turning away from sin and towards Jesus.

Think of it like a strong smell. Coffee shops have a distinct smell. So do hockey and curling rinks. So does a workout gym or the Body Shop store. You’ve probably had that experience when someone comes home from a night out and you can tell exactly where they’ve been just by the smell, right? They walk by and immediately you just what they’ve been doing because they carry the smell with them. My wife used to work at a place where she always came back smelling of bagels. She’d have to change her clothes and wash her hair before it would come out. I had the same problem when I worked at the pulp mill. I always came home smelling of black liquor, which is basically the waste product from turning trees into pulp. It smells a lot worse than bagels and there were times I would have to strip down right in the doorway and leave my clothes in the garage rather than bring them in the house.

In the same way, a non-believer who comes to church and hangs around Christians can pick up their smell – their lifestyle choices, their joy, kindness, high morals, honesty, etc. but not actually have faith in Jesus at all. They can even stay so long they start to believe they are Christians without actually giving their life to Jesus.

Israel and Us

Let’s turn back to our passage. As we saw last week Paul used himself as an example of spiritual maturity and self-denial, but now he goes the other way and uses Israel as an example of spiritual immaturity. “The perfect example of believing the false notion that one can be saved and then live a faithless, God-less life can be seen in what happened to the Jews’ ancestors in the wilderness…”[1]  He phrases this as a warning, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”

These were people who were saved by God as Christians are. They had multiple, manifold, manifest spiritual blessings. Miracles galore. Their story is every Christian’s story. They were rescued at a great cost from an oppressor, delivered from death by the blood of the lamb, redeemed from slavery, and given a new life. They were guided by God’s presence, given direction in the wilderness and darkness of life. They had a law-giver and spiritual leader to follow, just as we do in Jesus. As they trusted in God their enemies fell before them and behind them. And all along, they were given daily provision to sustain their bodies and souls. Every day they saw a new act of God’s love for them. Paul then drives the point home reminding them that Jesus is God and was the one protecting and providing for the Israelites, just like He does for us!

A People Overthrown by God

But now look at verse 5, “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” This should give us all great pause. God worked miracles, set them free from slavery, and provided for them along the way – but their hearts were not with Him. They were like the young person living with Christian parents, or the citizen living in a civil country. They had the blessings of being a child of God, surrounded by the smell, but their hearts were not with Him.

The word “most” is a pretty big understatement since out of the thousands that left Israel, only two were allowed into the Promised Land! The rest were left to wander and die in the wilderness. They were people of God, who saw God’s miracles, but died in faithlessness.

So, what happened? It is the same story from the beginning of Genesis all the way to the end. They didn’t have faith, they didn’t believe what God had said, they didn’t trust in God alone for their salvation. That’s what God desires. The path of Salvation is fairly simple. It means trusting that what God says is true and believing that His way is the only way.

It was like that for Adam and Eve, many stories of the Israelites in the Old Testament, the Pharisees and Judas in the New. God’s message was clear, they chose not to believe it, and were therefore condemned and “overthrown” by God.

Common Temptations

In verse 6 we read, “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” Sometimes people wonder why we have the Old Testament when we have the New, or what value there is in the Old Testament. It’s ancient, full of difficult things to read, and the New Testament seems so much nicer.

This verse tells us one reason why. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is immutable, unchangeable. The God who wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah, killed everyone in the flood, and instituted blood sacrifices as the only way to appease His wrath against sin is the same God who came to earth as a baby, wept over Jerusalem, died on the cross, and taught us to love our neighbours. The Old Testament was Jesus’ Bible, the Apostle’s Bible, and the first church’s Bible, and was perfectly sufficient for teaching about faith, salvation and life. The Old Testament doesn’t tell a different story, but gives us the beginning of the story and we do ourselves a disservice when we don’t study it. Paul says that the stories we read of the Israelites and how God dealt with them are examples for us that we should learn from.

So what are we to learn? There are four main sins that are highlighted. Let’s read together, and notice how serious these warnings are. Starting in verse 7: “Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.’ We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

The temptations the ancient Israelites went through are the same as we go through today, and the sins they commit that separate them from God are the same too. The stories of the Bible are there to instruct us, warn us, encourage us, and teach us about ourselves and God. So I’m going to ask you to do a little digging in your soul to see if these are represented there.

The first mentioned is idolatry, which references the story of the Golden Calf when Moses went up to the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments and while he was there Aaron and the rest of the Israelites crafted an idol to worship in place of God. It wasn’t that they were simply tempted to put their faith somewhere else, it was that they actively chose to reject Yahweh, formed a false god of their own, and then “sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play”, meaning they copied in the cultural, pagan festivals they saw around them.

They did, essentially what I’ve been talking about with young people and cultural Christians. While Moses was away they threw all their beliefs out the window and then worshipped, feasted, drank and danced the way they always wanted to, showing what was really going on in their hearts.

We do the same today as we turn away from God and put our faith and trust in things of our own design – money, insurance, diet, human authorities, or when we dabble with pagan things like horoscopes or superstitions. We can make money, comfort, food, or sex our idol as we turn to it to save us from pain, guilt, shame, fear. Remember the context of the Corinthian church eating food offered to idols and realize that Paul was also speaking of Israel’s example of eating, drinking and partying like unbelievers, throwing off God’s standards and doing whatever they felt they wanted to do regardless of how it affected themselves or anyone else.

If you want to know what idols you have in your life, ask yourself: what you do and what do you reach for when you hit a crisis hits or when you want to celebrate?

The second temptation for the Israelites was sexual immorality. Pornography, lustful thoughts, wandering eyes, sexual fantasy, adultery, and the rest. For them, this was tied to their idol worship. They used the golden calf and worshipping false gods as an excuse to sin sexually. Once they had crafted a god of their own, or borrowed one from a neighbouring nation, they worshipped it as the unbelievers did – which included sexual sins. As we’ve already learned, this was a huge temptation in Corinth, but just as much in ancient Israel.

The further you wander from God, the more you believe what the world believes and act like the world acts, the easier it is to fall for the temptation toward sexual sin. We’ve already talked a lot about that so I won’t belabour the point, but notice God’s punishment here. You might think, “Well, that’s back in the olden days, God doesn’t do that now!”

Listen to the words of Jesus in Revelation 21:5-8, at the end of the Bible: “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty, I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.’”

You may think Jesus is the warm and cuddly version of God that doesn’t care about sin, lets everyone do what they want, and lets everyone into heaven, but I assure you, He’s the same as He was with the Israelites. He may wait on the punishment, but I assure you that your faith is revealed in your actions and though you may not take your sin seriously, but Jesus sure does.

Does that mean a Christian who sins sexually can lose their salvation? No. As we said before, the difference is sanctification. The difference is that you hate that sin and want to be rid of it. Do you?

The third temptation was put Christ to the test. What does that mean? It means questioning God’s reliability. It’s when we declare God unreliable and then force or demand that He proves himself to us. The Israelites “put Christ to the test” as they told Moses that God and him don’t know what they are doing, that they would surely die of hunger and thirst, that life was better under slavery, that God was holding out on them, refusing to give them their favourite foods, and ultimately that God wasn’t strong enough to defeat their enemies. Over and over they said that God had left them and demanded more and more miracles. (Numb 21, Exo 17)

The Pharisees “put Christ to the test” too. Even though they had heard of and even witnessed multiple miracles, they continued to bring false charges against Jesus, tried to trick Jesus into making mistakes, and then demanding Jesus prove Himself with more miracles (Mark 8:11, Matthew 12:38-39). They even did it as He hung on the cross.

Satan “put Christ to the test” in the wilderness as he tempted Jesus to work miracles for wrong reasons – even tempting Jesus to force God Father to prove His love and prove Jesus’ was special by jumping off the top of the temple!

Have you done this? Atheists love this game. They love mocking Christians and telling God to dance for them, write in the sky, do a crazy sign, and then claiming God doesn’t exist when He refuses to play their game. Do you do this? Do you ever tell God that you’ll believe or obey if He’ll do something for you? Do you ever put yourself in a situation where God has to act just so you can see if He’s real? Do you ever question if God is good or His ways are right, and then deny Him when things don’t go your way? The Bible is clear that is a very serious sin.

Jesus responds, “An evil and adulterious generation seeks for a sign…” Jesus never rebukes or corrects people who are genuinely seeking Him out of need, but He also knows when people are coming with wrong motives.

And the fourth temptation was what is here called “grumbling”. Grumbling isn’t simply talking to God about tough things in your life that you don’t like. God wants us to bring our frustrations, concerns, worries and all the rest to Him. Grumbling is akin to complaining. It’s that low-level murmer in the heart where you keep telling yourself how horrible your life is, how it’s out of control, how the universe is out to get you, that God isn’t helping, nothing is right, there’s not enough money, time, energy, health, or anything else. Your friends aren’t really that good, your house isn’t right, your technology isn’t good enough, your spouse isn’t good enough, your life is too hard, too hot, too cold, too noisy, too quiet… murmur murmer grumble grumble complain complain.

This one is very difficult for me and one of my greatest temptations. I’m a child of discontent and have a very critical heart. I know this about myself and I have to be very careful about it. Why? Because grumbling is spiritually destructive and debilitating. It shows a lack of faith in God, a belief that He is unloving towards you. It’s a lack of contentedness and shows a misunderstanding of grace. It is the belief that you inherently deserve more than you have and God is unfairly holding out on you. It destroys your worship, your prayer life, your relationships, and your witness to others. A grumbling spirit leads to fighting with others, and envy, jealousy, covetousness. (James 4:1-3)  “I hate that person. Their life is better than my life, their job is better, the have more of what I want…. And I hate God too for not giving me what they have.”  There’s a big difference between complaining to God and complaining about God. Job complained to God but didn’t sin. Israel complained about God and did sin.

What about you? Are you a grumbler?

Conclusion

This section ends with, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

God is faithful. He is for you. He wants your sanctification and wants you to be more holy, because more holiness leads to more joy. He wants your spiritual success and knows what you need in order to grow. He knows your breaking points. Your temptations are not unique to you and he has given you scripture, fellow believers, and the Holy Spirit within you to help you understand them and get through it. And, when you are faced with the burden of temptation, God promises two things: a way out of the temptation, and the strength to endure it. The escape may not be immediate, but He promises that if you trust Him, lean on Him, ask Him, then you will have the strength to endure the temptation and mortify that sin within you – and then grow stronger in faith and in sanctification.

[1] Life Application Commentary: 1 Corinthians, Pg 135.

Why Do People Homeschool? (Carnivore Theology: Ep 41)

Posted on Updated on

Homeschooling Pt 2

The 41st episode of “Carnivore Theology”.

Chad, Al, Steve and Others Talk About Why They Homeschool

A couple weeks ago we talked to The Familyman, Todd Wilson about parenting and life as a homeschooling family. Today, we continue that conversation by discussing the motives behind our decision to homeschool our children.

Podcast Audio:

Click here to download the episode MP3.

Here’s the link to the behind-the-scenes YouTube video.

Please Consider Partnering with Us!

How can you help Carnivore Theology get better? Start by asking us a question in your voice on our SpeakPipe page!

Let us know what you think of our podcast by commenting on our Facebook page, connecting on Twitter, and rating us on iTunes! We’d also really appreciate if you’d pass them around to your friends. Sharing is caring!

Carnivore Theology is free for everyone, but it does have a cost to produce. If you’d like to help us with our hosting and equipment costs, you can 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!

Crop Top Day, Individualism, and Submission to Authority (Mark 10:32-45)

Posted on

GOM 36 - Submission to Authority

“And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.’

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ And he said to them, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?’ And they said to him, ‘We are able.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’ And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” (Mark 10:32-45)

Preparing For His Death

Jesus devoted much of his final time on earth to two important things He wanted to make sure His followers understood. The first thing was to prepare His disciples for His coming death and resurrection, which He knew they wouldn’t fully grasp, but He knew they needed teaching to look back on so they could understand. This happens a few times in scripture.

After Jesus clears the temple it says, “When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” (John 2:22) And again during His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday it says, “His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.” (John 12:16).

This was especially true when Jesus started talking about His death and resurrection. Just a few days before our passage today we read in Mark 9:31-32, “…he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.’ But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.”

The disciples prove over and over again that they simply can’t process the idea that Jesus was talking about because whenever Jesus starts talking about His death, they consistently start arguing about who is greatest. The next verse in Chapter 9 says, “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.” (Mark 9:33-34) So it’s not like this only happened once! In the passage we’re looking at today, James and John show that they didn’t understand Jesus once again. They couldn’t process a suffering and dying saviour who has a kingdom of suffering and humble servants. They were convinced that Jesus was bringing about the great rise of the Kingdom of Israel, and they wanted to be rulers in it.

But Jesus kept on teaching them because they needed to be able to look back on His words later. He needed to keep teaching so they could remember all that He had said and done, and apply it to their lives and teaching after He was gone.

Have you ever finished a conversation, walked away, and then realized all the things you should have said – or shouldn’t have said? Imagine what that was like for the disciples! I can’t begin to imagine the amount of “aha!” and “eureka!” and “oh man, I can’t believe I said that” moments that Peter, James, John and the rest of the disciples had once Pentecost had come and they Holy Spirit was indwelling them. Days and days of repentance probably came pretty easily because every day they would be remembering things that Jesus had said and done, and were finally able to see them clearly.

Preparing for Life Without His Physical Presence

The other thing that Jesus spent His final days doing was preparing His disciples for life together without His physical presence. For example, He needed to teach them about how they would be able to talk to Him and listen to Him after He had left them. He would tell them later, as they sat around the table at the Last Supper,

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.’” (John 16:7-15)

The Holy Spirit would guide them, teach them, convict them, grow the church, make converts, discern truth, work miracles, and be a daily guide – and they (and we) need to be in connection to the Holy Spirit at all times. But it wasn’t just connections to Himself that they would need in the coming years, they would also need to be connected to each other. That’s why Jesus makes sure that He continually corrects them whenever they start talking about who is greater.

In Mark 9 (and Matthew 18) when they started arguing about who was the greatest, Jesus brought a child to them and said that the greatest people in His Kingdom would be the ones who were willing to care for and serve dishonoured, lowly, marginalized people, like children – people who would never be able to give anything back to you. He took the child onto His lap and told them that not only did they need to serve lowly people, but needed to be lowly people.

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4)

In our passage today Jesus makes sure to correct their view of life in His Kingdom telling them that following Him means a life of humility, sacrifice and suffering. They wouldn’t be “rulers [and] lords… exercising authority” but live lives of submission as not only servants of the lowly, but “servants [and]… slaves of all”. They, like us, if we expect to be able to live as citizens of His Kingdom, would be expected to follow in their King’s footsteps – which was a life of humble self-sacrifice and submission.

Individualism and Crop-Tops

The command to “submit” usually makes people angry. It’s not a popular word, is it? It conjures up words like “doormat”, “spineless”, “pathetic”, “gutless”, “coward”, “weak”, “timid”, “taken for granted”. No one wants people using those words to describe them, right?

No, the gospel that we are hearing from the world’s is one of independence and individuality. We must assert yourself! Stand up for our rights! You can’t tell me what to do! Get an attorney and fight for your rights! Show your independence! Exercise your right to be who you are! You are the ultimate authority for your life and no one should be able to oppress you! Be your own highest authority! All authority is corrupt! You are your own god!”

That’s where it ultimately settles. Every individual is their own god and therefore gets to make their own rules. I am the master of my own destiny and can chart my own course. I am special and therefore my situation must be seen as a special case – you bend for me. I am unique and therefore an exception to any societal ramifications that may result from my actions.

In Canada, it seems, it is the individual’s choice that is of the highest value, and therefore no one can make choices for anyone else. You’ve heard this before: “I am always right when making decisions for myself, and therefore my decisions (even those made from a place of selfishness, pain and fear) are right for me.”

Individualism is rampant in Canada. It comes out in all sorts of ways from how we dress, to marriage, to whether we have children, to making the choice to end our own lives. “My decisions for me are always right for me, so you can’t tell me what to do.”

I was reminded about this this week as our culture was talking about a students freedom to choose to wear whatever they want to school. Now that it’s getting warmer, students – mostly young women, but not always – are bumping up against their school dress code. One 18 year old young lady, named Alexi Halket, from Etobikoke, ON made global news this week after getting in trouble at her school for wearing something the teacher and principal felt was inappropriate – basically showing up to school in a sports bra.

Her solution, driven by individualist thinking, wasn’t to submit to the authorities of the school, but to tell her teacher:

“No! I don’t think what I’m wearing is inappropriate. Why is it inappropriate? Why is my skin deemed inappropriate and oversexualized? No, I won’t cover up!”

She was taken to the principal who had a discussion with her. She walked out and decided to take her plight to social media and create something called “Crop Top Day” where “students around the globe wore crop tops to school in protest of dress codes that many feel… discriminate against women.”

This, of course, blew up all over the internet and literally thousand of teen girls, from countries all over the globe – including 500 students from her own school – chose to wear crop tops and bikini-tops to school – to, ironically, fight against being sexually objectified. When asked what she’s going to do now she said,

“I’m not going to back down…. This is about women’s rights and the objectification of our bodies.”

The world’s thinking, “You go, girl! It’s your body, your clothes, and no one can tell you what to do with it!” God’s way of thinking is very different. Let me explain what the Bible says and then we can decide how to respond to individualistic thinking.

God is very clear in scripture that a Christian is to live a life of submission, and is even quite clear as to who we are to live in submission to. Jesus says in our passage that we are to be “servants of all”, but he breaks it down throughout scripture to show us what groups we are to be submitting to.

1. Submit to God

First, and most obviously, the Bible teaches that we are to submit to God, His Word and His Son, Jesus Christ. This is all over the scriptures, including the 10 Commandments, but for a couple examples, James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” and Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him [“submit to him” – NIV], and he will make straight your paths.” God and His declared Word is the highest authority we have. Right now He’s giving us a choice to submit, but in the end every knee will bow (Philippians 2:9-11).

2. Submit to Governing Authorities

The second realm of authority we are to submit to is our governing authorities. Romans 13:1-2 says,

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

Yes, there is a lot of corruption in the world, but keep in mind that at the time that Paul wrote this, the “governing authority” was Emperor Nero who’s favourite hobby was killing Christians in horribly creative ways.

Peter says the same thing in 1 Peter 2:13-14 when he says,

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” The emperor he was speaking of was either Emperor Nero or another cruel man named Emperor Domitian who kicked off some of the worst times of Christian persecution in history. His rule was, “…no Christian, once brought before the tribunal, should be exempted from punishment without renouncing his religion.” Domitian was almost certainly the one who had the Apostle John boiled in oil and exiled to Patmos.

And yet, we are told that we must submit ourselves to the governing authorities, out of reverence and respect for God. One could easily include the principal of the school as an example of a “governing authority”. Where scripture does not explicitly differ from the rule of the authority, Christians are to submit.

3. Submit to Church Leadership

The third group that Christians are commanded to submit to is church leaders. This one isn’t too popular today. There has been so much manipulation, corruption and failure among church leaders that Christians are, understandably, very hesitant to even consider submitting to the leadership of their church. Another reason people hesitate in this is because they misunderstand humility, thinking that a person cannot be both humble and in a position of authority, but that isn’t the case. Jesus is the most humble and most authoritative person ever. He’s in charge, His Word is the final authority, and Jesus’ plan was to raise up Apostles who would go through the world making coverts who would become local elders to guide, serve, and train other believers.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:11-12)

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17)

Church Leaders aren’t better than anyone else. They are just people who have been called into a different role than others. In fact, James 3:1 agrees with the warning in Hebrews that those in authority, especially teachers, will be held to a higher standard by God, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (also see 1 Peter 5:1-4)

But it is to the Christian’s and the church’s detriment when they don’t willfully submit to the leadership that God has raised up in the church. They are not just rebelling against the human elders, but also rebelling against the God who put them there.

4. Submission of Wives to Husbands and Children to Parents

Here’s another unpopular one. The scripture teaches that just as there is a hierarchy of equals in the Trinity – the Son submits to the Father, and there is a hierarchy of equals in the church – the church submits to the God-appointed elders, so there is a hierarchy in the home – the wives submit to the husbands and the children to the parents.

Listen to how this is stated in Ephesians 5:22-6:4 and note that this is not about dignity, worth, ability, spiritual gifts, weaknesses and strengths, but of God’s design for how this world is meant to work – in a hierarchy of equals.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. ”

I wish I had more time to talk about this, and will probably spend more time talking about this in next week, but let me just say that we need to remember that this isn’t about men being better or smarter than women, or women being more naïve or needing to be coddled by men. This is not about men being in control, but instead being Christ-like servants of their wives and families, doing all they can to help them be who God created them to be. This is a hierarchy of equals – equal in dignity, worth, ability, spiritual gifts, and access to God. Keep in mind that the husband is still in submission to God, God’s word, the Holy Spirit, the governing authorities and the church elders, so it’s not like he’s getting a free pass to do what he wants!

Culture will fight us on this every step of the way, but for a Christian and in God’s church, culture doesn’t get a vote – only God does.

5. Submission of Workers to Employers

There are two more areas of submission that we need to cover. Right after Paul addresses husbands, wives and children, he takes a step outside the home into the relationship between an employee and employer. He says:

“Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.” (Ephesians 6:5-9)

Keep in mind that “slaves” and “bondservants” was much different than we think about it today. This isn’t condoning or reproving slavery, but dealing with a normal part of their everyday culture. For us, it very easily translates to our relationships with our employers. We should have truthful and sincere hearts, just as we would to Jesus. We are to do good work even when no one is looking, because Jesus is watching. We are to give good work, as we would to the Lord. We are to do it was a good will, as we would to God.

And then employers are reminded that even though they are in authority, that they don’t need to be jerks about it! Work as one working for Jesus, and treat your employee the way you want Jesus to treat you!

6. Mutual Submission

The final place that we are to submit is to one another. Everyone submits to God, God institutes Governing authorities and we submit to them. God also institutes church leaders and we submit to them. God gives a hierarchy of equals in the home where wives submit to husbands, and children to parents. Workers submit to employers as bosses submit to Jesus, and then finally, to make sure we cover all the bases, we remember what Jesus said to the disciples, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45)

The final place we are to submit is to one another. This is all over scripture. It’s almost like a catch-all that says, when in doubt, put yourself second. And, again, it’s tied to our submission to Jesus.

Ephesians 5:21 says we should be “…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

1 Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”

Philippians 2:3-4, which we’ve read many times, says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

There is a lot to talk about this, so I’m going to cover a bunch of examples next week, but let’s just leave it at remembering that this is the pervading attitude of scripture, and it absolutely goes against the individualistic, independent mindset of our culture.

Conclusion

No one is an island. None of us are God. Only God is God. We are all part of a community, a family, and no matter how smart or important we think we are, we must realize that we simply do not have permission to usurp His authority or try to come up with a “better plan”.

Our task, mission, goal and purpose, is to serve others as Jesus did. God gave His Son, Jesus gave His life. He served us and continues to serve us today. Someone once called Jesus’ Kingdom, “The upside-down kingdom” because it all seems topsy-turvy to us. The way up is down on our knees, the way to lead others is to serve them, the way to rule is to be a slave-of-all. Just like Jesus.

The Homeschooling Episode (Feat. Familyman Todd Wilson) (Carnivore Theology: Ep. 39)

Posted on Updated on

Homeschooling Pt 1 Todd Wilson

The 39th episode of “Carnivore Theology”.

Homeschooling and Parenting with Familyman Todd Wilson

Inspirational speaker and Familyman, Todd Wilson (www.familymanweb.com) talks about the ups, downs and sidewayses of parenting and homeschooling in this fun and informative episode. We learn about Todd’s story, run him through the Meatgrinder, and he answers questions for us like “Should all Christians homeschool?”, “How do we deal with criticisms?”, “How to be a good dad?”, and talk about some of the big struggles families face.

Podcast Audio:

Click here to download the episode MP3.

Here’s the link to the behind-the-scenes YouTube video.

Please Consider Partnering with Us!

How can you help Carnivore Theology get better? Start by asking us a question in your voice on our SpeakPipe page!

Let us know what you think of our podcast by commenting on our Facebook page, connecting on Twitter, and rating us on iTunes! We’d also really appreciate if you’d pass them around to your friends. Sharing is caring!

Carnivore Theology is free for everyone, but it does have a cost to produce. If you’d like to help us with our hosting and equipment costs, you can 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!

Don’t Mess with Jesus’ Kids (Abortion, Parenting and Ministering to Children)

Posted on Updated on

FreeGreatPicture.com-24237-hd-face-paint-children

Podcast Audio:

“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.

Worshiping Molech

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.

Have 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.

Teach Kids

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.

Train Kids

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.

Love Kids

And finally,

“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.

Conclusion

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.