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Christianity Under Fire

Motherhood, Fatherhood or Discipleship?

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Transubstantiation or Unsubstantiated: If The Plain Sense Makes Sense...
DaVinci Code: Was Christ's Divinity and the Bible invented at the Council of Nicea?
Plain Sense Interpretation/P'shat: Christs Comings
Isaiah 53: Human Sacrifice?
Isaiah 53: Christ Has Risen!!
Who Hath Believed Our Report?
Isaiah 53: Christ Our Passover Lamb
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Chart comparing Israel to Messiah
Isaiah 53: The Suffering Messiah
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Christs Coming and Time Gaps
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Are There Two Programs?
When Did the Church Begin?
When Did the Church Begin Pt. 2
Is America Cursed?
How and Why Christianity is Under Fire
Was Mary a Perpetual Virgin?
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Tribulation or Jacob's Trouble?
Jewish Wannabes and the Holidays
Christmas Under Fire: When Christians Attack
Is Celebrating Christmas Scriptural?
Was Iraq a Just War?
Category 7: The End of the World
If It Believes, Then Waddles and Quacks like a Christian it is a....
Why Homosexuality Should Be Confronted and Exposed
The Doctrine Of Eternal Security-Can You Lose Your Salvation?
Does the Soul Sleep?
Did Jews Kill Jesus?...Hear What Some Jews Have to Say
Some Unscriptural Teachings of the Catholic Church
Arguments That Catholics Use
Pantribulationism: Are There Two Programs Going On?
Before and After
Pantribulationism: What A Day That Will Be!!!!
Definite Article Theology: The Way
Pantribulationism: Extrabiblical Nonsense
My Old Ship, the USS Shreveport Assisting Hurricane Victims
Pantribulationism: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Trinity of God and Trichotomy of man: Definite Article Theology
Definite Article Theology
Pantribulationism: Blessed Hope and Glorious Appearing
Pantribulationism: The Departure
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Straining Out Gnats, Majoring on the Minors
Jewish Wannabes and Eschaholics
When Jewish Wannabes Attack What They Don't Understand
How Jewish Wannabes Attack and How to Identify Them
Historical Method and Homosexuality
If the Plain Sense Makes Sense: Christ's Coming
If the Plain Sense Makes Sense: Evolution
The Silliness of Jack Chick
Inspirational and Patriotic Songs
Communism and Islam -vs- the Faith of America's Founding Fathers
Bridging the Generation Gap
Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth
Let's Worship the Lord
Faith Under Fire Television Show and Website
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Arrogant or Convinced?
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Good News: How To Fight Terrorism
Prophecies Yet To Be Fulfilled: Zechariah 12:10-14
Are You Happy?
When Jewish Wannabes Attack the Bible
Why Jewish Wannabes Attack
The Masters List
You're A Hopeless ....
Preterism Versus Dispensationalism
What's Love Got To Do With It?
When Jewish Wannabes Attack!
Preterism and Calvinism?
Who Do Men Say That I Am?
Signs You Are Doing Something Right
Ivory Tower Theologians and more about me
Satan the Counterfeiter
Saved By Race or By Grace?
Wanna Know Some Secrets?
Distortions of the Resurrection
Apostles Today?
Message and Ministry of Paul compared to the twelve
Maxwell House...Good For Your Desktop
The Feminization of Christianity
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Should Christians Observe the Sabbath?
The Power of One
Be Thankful
Group Think and the Jew
You Must Be Born Again!!
Tribute to a Friend
Who's That Babe in the Manger: Does it matter
President Bush and the Movie: Unbreakable
Having a Form of Godliness
The Natural Supernatural Connection
Spiritually Challenged Skeptics
Speaking or Praying to the Dead
Eternally Insecure?
The Preterist's False Hope
Apostolic Succession Catholic Style
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So Deep A Child Could Understand
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27 And it came to pass, as he said these things, a certain woman out of the multitude lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the breasts which thou didst suck. 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it. (Luke 11)

There is no biblical record of Jesus or Paul being married or having biological children, yet Paul considered himself a spiritual Father, which is more important than being a biological Father. (1 Timothy 1:2,18; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2:1; Titus 1:4)
 
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy my true son in the faith: 3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer...18 Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. (1 Timothy 1)
 
Timothy wasn't his biological son, but Paul called him his 'true son in the faith'
 
4 To Titus, my true son in our common faith: (Titus 1)
 
Jesus makes it clear that for us, being a child in the faith and parenting spiritual children is much more important than having biological children that don't ever follow Jesus.
 
Catholics don't like to hear that Mary was really a disciple of Jesus rather than the mother of God and that our real brothers and Mothers are those that do the will of God.
 
"19 Now Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you." 21 He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice."  (Luke 8, NIV)
 
AND
 
"51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." (Luke 12)
 
So should churches be preaching and praising biological Motherhood, which only some will ever realize,  or discipleship/following Jesus daily,  which all that call themselves Christians should be practicing and modelling?
 
Being spiritual parents and disciples are what Christ commands of us.
 
1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules.  (2 Timothy 2:2)
 
BJ Maxwell 05/14/2006
 
Quote from Article Below: "...there are those women who will never be mothers and yet who are affecting lives— 'mothering' others—in remarkable ways.  And there are those mothers whose style doesn’t line up with this popular idealization of motherhood, preached in American churches and touted in greeting cards, but who are nevertheless quite remarkable. "
 
Now the Rrrrrrrest of the Story:
 
 
(Mother’s Day) 

 
1. Should we preach motherhood
 
There is a tendency on Mother’s Day to sentimentalize motherhood.  Churches, in their preaching on that day, generally take as their text some generalization of the ideal mother and celebrate that ideal.  I don’t know that I can say with any confidence what the effect of this kind of preaching is.  But I do know that it causes a number of problems.
 
      While there is among us a handful who are mothers of young children right now, and there are others who will be in the future—and we want to encourage and guide them in their ministry of motherhood—sentimentalizing motherhood is rarely helpful to Christian discipleship.  And churches, at least churches who take the Bible seriously, are first and foremost concerned with following Jesus rather than some generalization of what it means to be a good person or a good American or a good mother.  And so, on Mother’s Day, we remember that we preach Jesus Christ first and motherhood or childhood or fatherhood second.  And that is good news for a number of reasons. 
 
      First, there are children, young and old, whose mothers don’t or didn’t measure up to a sentimentalizing of motherhood—and never will.  A focus on some generalized form of American motherhood only adds insult to injury.  There are mothers who know they don’t measure up.  In spite of the nice words spoken of them, they still feel like failures—they’ve done things, said things, experienced things that bring them pain.  And they can’t outrun that.  Cards, gifts, flowers can’t change that. 
 
      Second, there are those who don’t come to church in order to be told how to honor their mothers.  They want to find their own ways to express themselves.  It’s true that some of us need to be told to do so—so forgetful are we and preoccupied that we’d easily neglect those expressions of love and gratitude that we ought as daughters and sons offer to those who gave us life and who, in good or bad ways, nevertheless nurtured us to be who we are today.  And there isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t possess some kind of inner, God-given beauty.  We all have become someone we can give thanks for.  And without our mothers we simply would not be.  
 
      And then third, there are those women who will never be mothers and yet who are affecting lives—“mothering” others—in remarkable ways.  And there are those mothers whose style doesn’t line up with this popular idealization of motherhood, preached in American churches and touted in greeting cards, but who are nevertheless quite remarkable.  The preaching of American motherhood doesn’t describe them even though the effect these unconventional mothers have on others ought to be celebrated. 
 
      Should we preach a sentimentalized motherhood, we’d describe only a tiny few and we wouldn’t need to hear the gospel.  Motherhood, as described across America doesn’t need the gospel to be motherhood.  Churches don’t have any business leaving the gospel behind.   

 
2.  What the Bible says about motherhood
 
Isn’t it interesting that the Bible never idealizes motherhood the way so many do?  Some of the Bible’s most heroic mothers were quite unconventional by our standards.  Sarah, wife of Abraham, mother of Isaac, wasn’t a mother until very, very late in life.  And even then, though she could be generous and clever, she was also rather cantankerous, unkind, cynical, and often sullen.  Mary, mother of Jesus, was terribly young and unmarried until after she learned she was pregnant.  Not much is made in the Bible of their motherhood.  But much is made of what their lives produced.  Much is made of the way God worked through their lives and the men their sons became.  Much is made of the singular fact that when the chips were down they trusted God.  Much, very much indeed, is made of the truth that they lived by faith and that God worked through them when they had no idea whatsoever about what to do next.   
 
      The Bible gives us no list of their qualities.  No book written about their method of mothering.  No key to their success.  Instead, we have a witness to the simple fact that they, like us, did the best they could with what life gave them (and this is what the Bible says about all those whose lives it narrates).  They were not perfect, and frankly it was their imperfection that made them “saints.”  Holiness worked its mystery in and through them in spite of themselves, and maybe precisely because they weren’t trying to be perfect. 
 
      This is what the Bible says about motherhood.  And if the church is to talk about motherhood, the Bible gives us little more to say than this.   

 
3.  Motherhood is first of all discipleship
 
All this helps us get to our text for the day.  I’ve not gone hunting for good texts to offer to you on this Mother’s Day.  Instead, I think the Christian Year and the texts that walk us through the gospel story offer us a very good way to think biblically about motherhood today, and today’s text is a wonderful way for us to get motherhood right.   
 
      Today is the seventh Sunday after Easter.  It is the Sunday after the Ascension of the Lord Jesus “up into heaven”.  And it is the Sunday before Pentecost, the Sunday we testify to the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out upon us, empowering and sending us as vibrant, daring witnesses to the good news of Easter—God’s gift of life and freedom for a world trapped by sin and death. 
 
      On this Sunday we read the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. And if you wish, this first chapter is a way for us as Christians to contribute something of real value to the holiday America celebrates this day.  This chapter is about the kind of mothers the gospel wants in the world because it tells us about the kind of disciples the gospel wants to send into the world. 
 
      In the first chapter of Acts, the disciples are given a promise.  “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit,” Jesus tells them.  Motherhood cannot be separated from this, not if it is to be Christian.  Motherhood is first of all discipleship.  And discipleship gets its marching orders from texts like this one. 
 
      What is interesting about this text is that it shows the disciples in such a poor light.  Disciples, according to the Bible, often don’t get it.  That was true while Jesus was on the road to Jerusalem.  It is true now after the resurrection.  It will be true after Pentecost.  There are no perfect images of disciples in the Bible, unless it’s true that the perfect disciple is one who is not perfect at all. 
 
      Jesus gives the disciples a promise—the “Holy Spirit will come upon you” and you will go “to the ends of the earth”—but they ask Jesus, “is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”  Mothers are often concerned about the home front.  Are there enough clean clothes?  Is the refrigerator full enough?  Is the house clean enough?  Are we paying the bills?  These aren’t small things.  They are what make a family run.  And disciples of all kinds are right to be concerned about them.  When the home is in crisis, mothers, by and large, worry and work to restore it, to bring it to order, to make it home again.  For a good home means safety and security.  A good home is a place to heal and grow. 
 
      Mothers who worry about these things are like the disciples in our text.  Israel is a mess and has been for quite some time.  And the disciples are right to wonder if it’s time to put things back in order, to make Israel home again—safe, secure, a place to heal and grow.
 
      But Jesus says nothing about restoration, he’s not much interested in the home front.  He doesn’t answer their question at all.  At least not in the way they want.  And this is important.  Jesus avoids their question entirely and instead reiterates his promise, this time pressing it further: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Jesus doesn’t seem interest at all in restoring the house, but in expanding it, knocking down its walls, moving the family to . . . Brazil.  And to us his words are disturbing; what he’s talking about is bound to be messy and chaotic and even dangerous.  Mothers-as-disciples it seems will need to get used to life lived on the edge.  It will be the way of life for those called and sent by Jesus. 

 
4. Is chaos closer to the kingdom than we think?
 
There’s one more feature about this text that I consider important. 
      The text tells us that “certain women including Mary the mother of Jesus” heard Jesus say all these things while they were together with the other disciples outside the city on the “mount called Olivet.”  Why did Jesus meet them outside the city?  Earlier he entered the “room upstairs where they were staying” in Jerusalem and taught them. 
 
      Why did they all have to leave the city this time around?
 
      I think Jesus knows how easy it is to become preoccupied with home life.  It’s as true for mothers as it is for fathers.  It’s as true for church members as it is for pastors.  But Jesus does not want us to focus on the home or on the family.  Focused there, we’ll never leave; the family, the home, the life of the congregation are never restored well enough for us to be satisfied; mothers can never manage them to perfection.  Instead, Jesus dares us to focus on “the ends of the earth” (compare Isaiah 49.1-6 as the way the Isaiah literature challenges Israel to reimagine its life missionally).  I think he knows that if our focus is directed there—missionally and not just domestically—the other things will follow accordingly.  “Why do you worry?” Jesus asks elsewhere.  “Seek first the kingdom and all these things will be given to you as well.” 
 
      And so, Jesus has his disciples meet him outside the city, beyond their homes, plunged deep in the world where he is sending them.  Of course they “return” home again.  As they should, as they do in this text.  But I’ve a hunch they’re not as worried about vacuuming and shopping and the laundry as they once were.  I have a hunch they live more loosely with the details they once tried to control.  I think they laugh more, precisely because their praying keeps them close to the heart of God and farther from their own anxieties. 
 
      I wonder if this text invites us to wonder if it’s possible that those mothers whose lives and homes are messy, in disarray, and tilted toward the chaotic may well be closer to the kingdom than they realize.  Is it possible that their lives are being pressed and prodded and kept off balance by the Holy Spirit?  Is it possible that the mess they often look out upon with frustration and sometimes with shame is more holy than they think?
 
      Could the same be said of the rest of us who consider ourselves disciples of this Jesus—disciples who, “when the Holy Spirit has come upon us,” are able to give up our anxieties over so many smaller things we’ll never control anyway?