*Ladies, I’m about to address one of the most volatile, polarizing issues in the church today. Everybody, it seems, has an opinion – a strong opinion—on this one. It has torn message boards apart, led to the giving and receiving of the evil eye across the pew, and caused rampant unfriending on Facebook. Dare I mention this topic that ignites such a flame within our collective bosom?
Well, after that build up, I guess I’d better.
Lemme brace myself.
And batten down the hatches.
And find something to take cover behind.
Um…it’s your baby.
Well, maybe not yours in particular, but somebody’s. Somebody’s baby or small child is making a ruckus in church, and it’s distracting everybody within earshot, including the pastor, who is making a valiant attempt to continue his train of thought even though he’s not sure of his own name at the moment.
There. I said it, and I lived to tell the tale. Whew.
Now before you fire off an angry e-mail, let me backtrack for just a sec. Titus 2:3-5 says that “older women” are to “teach what is good and so train the young women.” So, as much as it pains me at the age of almost 44, I’m going to put on my “older woman” hat for just a minute, because I think there’s a teaching moment here for all of us. Yes, all of us, whether your best church dress (or capris) is freshly stained with strained peas or you’ve graduated to dry clean only.
If you’re a young mother, I’ve been where you are. I have six wonderful children in my family ranging in age from 25 all the way down to 9, and they have all been in church from day one. My husband has been a minister of music for most of our married life. We have served in churches with and without nurseries, children’s church, cry rooms, and “piped in” sermons. (“With” was easier.) I know what it’s like to try to wrangle one or two or three or more infants and small children during a sermon and keep them quiet. There were years when I got nothing out of the sermon for weeks on end because I was so busy trying to keep Baby from squalling his guts out and Junior from scribbling in the hymnal. Believe me, I sympathize. I get it.
Your baby is adorable. I don’t even know what he looks like, but I know he’s adorable. If he’s within a ten foot radius of me, I will probably try to get my hands on him and cover him with kisses. I love babies and small children.
I love that you want to have your children worship with you in church. That’s where they belong! I’m excited that you’ve chosen to raise them in church, and, having done so myself, appreciate the time and work it takes just to get to church clean, in one piece, and not hating each other (or at least two out of three!). And it’s great to have them in “big church” where they can start getting their feet wet learning how to sit quietly through the service. I would never say that people shouldn’t bring their munchkins into church.
So, please don’t see me as some never-been-through-it-herself, baby-hating curmudgeon, but rather an older, wiser, been-there-done-that mommy when I say:
Sometimes your child makes noise. Too much noise.
And, as much as the people around you love your child, it bothers/annoys/irritates many of them when they’re trying to hear and participate in the worship service. And that doesn’t make them bad people.
And it’s distracting to the pastor/pray-er/speaker/musician who’s currently trying to carry out his part of the worship service. And that doesn’t make him inept or unprofessional.
And it is your job as a parent –just as it was mine—to alleviate that situation, not the job of the people around you to ignore it.
Most people are reasonable when it comes to a little distraction. They understand that Baby is going to fuss for the few seconds it takes you to find the pacifier he just dropped, lick the dirt off of it, and cram it back into his mouth. No big whoop. And if it is, well, those folks need to get a grip and show some understanding, or the next time they cough during the sermon, you have my permission to aim Baby over your shoulder in their general direction when he’s of a mind to spit up. (Ok, ok. Not really. That’s not a very Christlike attitude. Sorry.)
What most people find unreasonable is continuous, unabated noise from your child. Five minutes. Fifteen minutes. Thirty minutes. The entire worship service. And that’s not limited to fussing and crying. Happy babbling and talking is cute, but it can be just as loud and distracting as crying. And for someone who’s trying to focus on worship or the sermon, that’s not cute.
You need to take Baby out until you can get him quiet, and then you can bring him back in.
Are you going to miss part of the service? Yes. But—and let me assure you, I say this to you in love –toughen up, Buttercup. That’s one of the things that happens when you become a parent—you miss out on things you want to do. You probably don’t get a full night’s sleep, trips to the bathroom by yourself, or uninterrupted conversations with other adults, either. Add this to the list. Yes, it can be discouraging, but cheer up! This, too, shall pass! You’re training your child, and it won’t be long before you will be able to sit through the whole service with him being quiet. Trust me, there are plenty of sermons on this side of Wailapalooza for you to enjoy with Junior coloring quietly at your side. You can make it!
One final aspect of this issue: church is not solely about you and your right to bring your children into the worship service (which, as I’ve said, no reasonable person who doesn’t want to get spit up on would dispute) and keep them there whether they distract people or not. I know the vast majority of moms don’t think this way, but for the tiny percentage that do, let me disabuse you of this idea right now.
Your role as a church member is not to demand your rights and have the rest of the congregation bend to them, whether you’re a young mother, a pastor, a deacon, the head of a committee, or just Joe Church Member. That is a narcissistic, selfish, unChristlike attitude. Jesus Himself said,
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
Your role as a church member is to serve your brothers and sisters in Christ. So is mine. That means, if you’re sitting near me, and I see you struggling with Baby or Junior during the service, I lean over and offer to help (Pleaseletmeholdyourbaby. Pleaseletmeholdyourbaby. Pleaseletmeholdyourbaby. :0) even if I end up missing part of the service. It also means that if your child is keeping the people around you from growing deeper in their walk with Christ because they can’t hear and apply the sermon, or if he’s throwing the pastor off from being able to deliver the sermon, you serve those people by taking your child out until he’s quieted down.
If we all practice what Galatians 5:13 says, and “serve one another in love,” we’ll have a phenomenal, loving, self-sacrificing church environment for Baby and Junior to grow up in. And that will benefit us all as the family of God.
*(NOTE: I want to reassure my friends at my own church who are young mothers that this article was NOT inspired by you! We hardly ever hear a peep out of the babies and children who sit in our worship service because we have some fantastic young parents who are in tune with their children’s and the rest of the congregation’s needs, and they serve us both beautifully. These parents and their children are a joy and a delight, and my hat is off to them!)
I just think this is a fun song :0)
Do you know what types and shadows are? To put it simply, it’s when we take a look at an Old Testament character and notice things in his life that are similar to, and foreshadow, the life and ministry of Jesus. I really enjoy studying types and shadows. For me it’s like Twilight Zone meets a treasure hunt meets the Bible.
This morning I was studying the first two chapters of Exodus, and I noticed several instances of Moses foreshadowing the life of Jesus. I have a couple of friends who enjoy types and shadows, and I figured there might be a few more of you who get as geeked up about this stuff as we do, so I thought I’d share my study notes with y’all.
A few of caveats: these are just “off the top of my head” study notes, so think of this as a rough draft rather than a polished article. Also, I didn’t consult any commentaries or other resources, so I’m sure I missed a lot of things that others have picked up on. Finally, this pretty much covers only Exodus 1 and 2, which ends before the burning bush episode, before Moses even returns to Egypt, so there are tons of things in Moses’ later life that I haven’t covered. There are many more examples of types and shadows after chapter 2, I just haven’t gotten to them yet.
Types and Shadows in Exodus 1-2
- Moses’ parents were people of great faith living under an oppressive foreign government, as were Joseph and Mary.
- Moses and Jesus were both born under oppressive kings who feared a takeover by the Hebrews and ordered a mass infanticide of Hebrew baby boys.
- Moses and Jesus were both “adopted” by a parent who raised them as their own children: Moses, by Pharaoh’s daughter; Jesus, by Joseph.
- Moses left the glory of his throne and palace and his position of royalty to “become” one of his own people, whom he delivered out of bondage to slavery. Jesus left the glory of Heaven and emptied himself of His royal position as King to become one of His own people, whom He delivered out of bondage to sin.
- Rejection of Moses’ and Jesus’ reign/authority by their own people:
“Who made you a prince or a judge over us?” (Moses)
“We do not want this man to reign over us.” (Jesus)
“We have no king but Caesar.” (Jesus)
- Moses and Jesus both sat down by a well (Ok, this is less type/shadow and more of a common thing for Israelite shepherds to do. Wells were communal gathering places for shepherds.) And speaking of shepherds…
- God heard Israel’s groaning and sent them a deliverer at just the right time: after 400 years. He sent Moses after 400 years of slavery and Jesus after 400 years of silence during the intertestamental period (between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament).
- Both Jesus and Moses returned to their homelands after the kings who wanted to kill them had died. God called Moses back to Egypt. God called Jesus out from Egypt.
Well, what did I miss? What other types and shadows do you see in Exodus 1 and 2?
The dreadfulness of the word hung heavy in the air between Jana and her friend Denise.
“The doctor says it’s terminal,” Denise choked, “I’m so confused. I don’t know what to do.”
Jana’s heart broke as she envisioned the difficult emotional road ahead for Denise and watched the tears streaming down her face.
“I’d do anything to take that pain away,” thought Jana. “Anything.”
For days after they parted, Jana’s thoughts were consumed with how she could help Denise accept and feel better about her condition. By the weekend, when they met for coffee, Jana was ready.
“Denise,” she began, “I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and I think I know why you’re so uncomfortable with having cancer.”
“Oh? Why?” asked Denise.
“Well, first of all, you shouldn’t be fighting against the idea of having cancer. It’s a completely natural biological event. In fact, you were probably born genetically predisposed to cancer. It’s part of who you are. Accept it and embrace it as something that makes you unique and wonderful!”
“You’re also worried about what other people will think of you. Maybe they’ll think you’re weak and try to help you with things that you’d rather do for yourself.”
“But maybe I’ll need some help,” Denise suggested quietly.
“Nonsense!” Jana retorted, “Having cancer doesn’t make you different from anybody else. It’s exactly the same as not having cancer. What we need to do is show that to the world. Maybe we should have a rally for cancer equality!”
“Jana, that’s great and all,” Denise whispered somberly, “but I’m going to die. That makes all the stuff you’re talking about seem a lot less important.”
Jana seems like a very loving and kind person, but does the “help” she was offering Denise seem…well…helpful?
What if I told you that during this entire scenario, Jana personally knew a doctor who had a proven cure for Denise’s type of cancer, and was giving it away, yet Jana never told Denise? How loving and kind does Jana seem now?
Now read back through this story and substitute homosexuality for cancer.
We live in a culture that tells Christians that we are to “love” our homosexual friends and loved ones by embracing homosexuality as good and natural. We even hear people who claim to be Christians saying this. But is this how the Bible defines love? Is this how Jesus loved people?
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:10-11
Think back over the encounters Jesus had with people, from the woman at the well, to Zaccheus, to Nicodemus, to the woman caught in adultery, to the rich young ruler, to anybody else Jesus ever interacted with.
Did Jesus ever “love” someone by telling him it was OK to stay in his sin?
No, He didn’t.
Jesus loved sinners by calling them to repentance, forgiveness, and a new life in Christ.
Why? Because it isn’t love to help the slave to embrace his chains. It’s love to set him free.
Christ loved us by going to the cross and becoming the propitiation –satisfying God’s wrath—for our sins. He laid down His life for our freedom.
And, Christian, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. We must lay down our opinions, our politics, our ideas of what we’d like the Bible to say, maybe even our actual lives, in order to help people know freedom in Christ. We have the cure for their spiritual cancer—the gospel—and it is not “love” to knowingly misdiagnose them or keep that cure from them.
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
For our sin, our Savior endured wrongful conviction, ridicule, mockery, and bullying.
For our sin, our Savior was slapped, punched, spit on, had His beard yanked out, and thorns and brambles mashed into His skull.
For our sin, our Savior had the skin flayed off His back, buttocks, and legs, whipped nearly to death until He was a bloody mess.
For our sin, our Savior, beaten, bloody, and broken of body, hoisted a heavy, splintery cross onto His shoulders and carried it through town and up the hill to His execution.
For your sin. For my sin. For our neighbors’ sin.
How dare you, or I, or anyone spit in the face of our bleeding, dying Savior by saying that the sin that put Him on the cross is OK?
How dare we?
How can any of us claim to love Christ while celebrating the nails, the spear, the crown of thorns?
By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
1 John 2:5b-6
Jesus walked the way of leading people to repentance from sin and to the beauty, the freedom of a glorious new life through faith in Himself. Will we, who say we abide in Him, love Jesus and our homosexual neighbor enough to walk in the same way in which He walked?