Click here to read part 1.
Yesterday's post was about how motherhood follows Jesus's model of making disciples of all nations (motherhood does ministry like Jesus) and today we're going to talk about how motherhood does ministry for Jesus.
Just so we're clear, the word "ministry" has many negative associations in my head. I think this is best illustrated by the time some friends and I picked up a youth speaker from the airport and drove him to a church event two hours away. I hoped for good fellowship and asked lots of questions, but I was very discouraged by the conversation. Eventually he even put his earbuds in and tuned us out! The man traveled to speak all the time and left most of the parenting to his wife. He openly told us that he didn't really study the Bible, and that was plain throughout the event because he managed to "preach" entire "sermons" without opening the Bible.
But he talked about ministry. Oh yes, he likes doing ministry. He went to a well-known seminary. He speaks at camps all the time. He knows people. I know I should show this man some grace, but I can't help but wonder, "Is any of this really for Jesus? Is He pleased with this?"
Contrast that experience with a week during the summer that I visited my cousin Karen three years ago. She has two young children and is in the process of adopting a daughter from China. Both of her children have had different allergies and other problems that made mothering very, very difficult. But that summer (and when I've seen her since) I was amazed as I watched her calm her colicky baby and patiently shepherd her older daughter's heart. I remember feeling so bad for how difficult her life was, but I was amazed at how quick she was to tell me about God's faithfulness and what good He was bringing about through the situation. I remember thinking, "I might end up having not-so-easy children...but that wouldn't crush me because it hasn't crushed her." God gave and is giving her so much grace, and she lavishes her children with unconditional love. Without a doubt I know that what she is doing is for Jesus and that He loves what she is doing!
I remember being at the library several months ago, very frustrated with Stephen and not feeling a whole lot of unconditional love for him. He was being extremely fussy that month, and especially that day, and it was just about time to eat, so I, red-faced and flustered, grabbed a John Piper book and sat in between some shelves in the kids section so I could feed him. I opened to a random page and was blown away by Mark 9:36-37:
"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.”
John Piper commented:
"Receiving a child into your arms in the name of Jesus is a way to receive Jesus. And receiving Jesus is a way to receive God. Therefore how we deal with children is a signal of our fellowship with God. Something is deeply amiss in the soul that does not descend (or is it really ascend?) to love and hold a child."
Wow! I looked at Stephen in a whole different way after that revelatory moment. What a crazy thing for Jesus to say, that by receiving a child I am receiving Him! This as-if-you-did-it-for-me concept is also seen in Matthew 25:34-40.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.'"
When I read that I can't help but think particularly of those who through adoption welcome, nourish, and clothe young people or babies in dire situations who would otherwise probably die. Jesus said that by doing that's for Him. Every single time you give a meal to someone in need, it is as if you are serving up some food for Jesus! I'm not sure if anyone has the energy to work at a homeless shelter three times a day, seven times a week, but mothers feed their needy ones that often for all of childhood!
Note: Since it says "as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers", from what I can tell this passage applies to what we do for other Christians, as not every needy person on earth is considered a "brother" by Jesus. However, there are plenty of other passages (like Luke 6:27-36) that say we are to show mercy to unbelievers too, so either way my point still stands that loving children shows love to Jesus.
I am just amazed at how Jesus cares for the marginalized and how much He calls His church to do the same. Caring for children is such a high calling, and what a privilege that mothers get to do it on a daily basis!
So take heart, weary mother, and know that your work, as demanding and consuming as it is, is so much bigger than just trying to keep your children alive another day. You're parenting for Jesus and for the nations (see yesterday's post.)
May 1 Corinthians 15:58 encourage you:
"Therefore my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labors are not in vain."
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like chartreuse, calligraphy, Coke Icees, childbirth, crocs, Studio C, and...alliteration.
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today