Friday, February 22, 2008

What does it mean to, "...labor in birth again until Christ is formed in our little children?"

As you may have noticed I changed the header and description of this blog from, "Taking up the high calling of teaching our kids God's word," to "Laboring in birth again until Christ is formed in our little children.- Galatians 4:19"

What in the world does that mean? Teaching, I understand. Get out a book- the Bible, memorize some verses, do a "Bible" craft... right? Well, those are certainly all good things to do and good places to start when setting out to purposefully teach your kids God's word, but God is changing my perspective, as He usually does, one step at a time in this sojourn through life with Him.

When I first started Timothy Moms, Christmas of 2007, my heart was to share what God was stirring in me, that is, a desire to purposefully teach Connor and Ryland God's word. I also wanted it to be a place where other moms could share and find resources, which it is becoming... THANKS LADIES! But as I've been praying for and over my boys and thinking and asking God, "What am I going to teach them today Lord? Help me to be aware of those times, when we wake up and go about living today, and as we go to sleep tonight, that would be moments I can teach them about you," He's been giving me a more, organic, if you will, plan for being a Timothy Mom to my sons. That is, my neat linear method of learning is being turned into a more of a dirty, composte pile, dirt, seeds and water method- God's teaching me that learning of Him and His word is not linear but dynamic and alive!

The Spirit brings several verses to mind, but Galatians 4:19 in particular, seems to sum up the heart God has put in me. "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you..."

So what does it mean? When Paul wrote the Galatians he was very concerned that they were being swept away into heavy yokes of, "to do's" rather than simply growing to maturity in grace. His heart towards them is as though they are his own little children. In other letters, Paul's heart as a spiritual parent to those he wrote to comes across also.

In 1 Corinthians 4:14-17a, he makes a distinction between teaching a person God's word and being a spiritual parent to someone, " I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ..." (NKJV)

In 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12 Paul shows us the heart of someone who labors until Christ is formed in another person , "But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory."

What I hear the Spirit speak to my own heart is what I have heard from many of you who've contributed here, that modeling Christ before our children is the main thing, not to the exclusion of Bible study, scripture memorization, visual and other activities that help the Word to be remembered and etc.

Here are some key ways I see I can, and we all can, be Timothy moms- spiritual moms like Paul- to our own kids and labor to see Christ formed in them:

  1. Warn them. Like we all do as parents warn our kids about various dangers we should warn them of the dangers of unbelief through the seduction of sin (Hebrews 3:12).
  2. That in all our "teaching" of God's word we should look for the gospel and emphasize it in our teaching. On the road to Emmaus Jesus appeared to a couple of His followers, in His resurrected body, "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." (Luke 24:27) Sometimes I think, "What if we 'modern' Christians had only the Old Testament scriptures, like the early church? What if we chewed on the meat of the O.T. to digest Christ into our lives, to learn of Him in 'Moses and all the Prophets'?" I think if we did spend more time prayerfully seeking the Spirit's revelation of Jesus Christ to us through the harder to digest meat of the Old Testament, we'd come to find ourselves feasting on an amazing steak dinner. I think we'd be healthier, stronger Christians. We could have a more true understanding the Jesus of the Bible. I'm not at all saying the New Testament isn't God's word or that it should be left out, but rather that we have a feast of meat we miss out on, I think, by not studying and looking for Jesus to be revealed in the Old Testament. When Paul said He taught them the gospel, He taught it by showing how Jesus Christ was all the O.T. in flesh. Our kids need more than ever to know who the REAL Jesus is. There are a lot of false gospels and doctrines out there, many that are all dressed up as Christian and not that easy to recognize as false. They need, we need, to know the gospel from Genesis to Revelation as it is revealed in Jesus and we need to impart that to our kids.
  3. Be gentle, like a nursing mother feeds her babies, as Peter wrote " newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby." (1 Peter 2:2). Again, Peter and those he wrote to, only had the Old Testament. Feeding our kids God's word, Old and New Testament, like a mother feeds her nursing babies means that, like Eunice and Lois (Timothy's mom and grandma), this faith in Christ as the incarnate Word and His gospel of salvation through His death by grace must be ours first (2 Timothy 1:5). We must know how the Word applies to our own lives and do that which we know applies. This has been happening with me recently in the areas of reaching out to our homeless and in writing letters and praying for persecuted Christians in other countries. As I'm feeling led by the Lord to grow in obedience in these areas, according to His word, and I'm taking action to apply it in my life, I'm taking my kids with me and talking to them about what Jesus said about how if we do good to the least of those in this life that are His then we've done it to Him, and how we are to do good and reach out to the needy and persecuted as one body in Jesus' name. That's feeding them from the "breast" of our lives, letting the meat of the word we've been chewing on and growing in our lives be broken down into swallowable "proteins" (so to speak) that they can handle. This is what Jesus did , bringing His disciples with Him, telling parables and stories using nature and the surrounding circumstances to let God's word, broken down and lived out in His life, feed them. He fed 5000- they learned God's power over the impossible. He died on the cross and rose again- they learned God's way of drawing others through self-sacrificing love, etc. God's word is in flesh- Jesus. And now we are His body- His Spirit lives in us. We aren't yet finished being matured, but in whatever we know is Him, willing and moving in our lives to do, we must do before our kids- bringing them with us, praying for, and telling them, God's word as it is being lived out in us.
  4. Labor day and night not to lay a burden on your kids. I think this refers to not burdening our kids with the things that burden us, but rather praying fervently and doing whatever we must do to be diligent to enter the rest of living in the Spirit (Hebrews 4:11). It means not worrying before our kids about money, food, clothes, status- stuff, as Jesus said, that the Gentiles- unbelievers- worry about (Matt.6:25-32)

The more I listen and chew on what the Spirit is teaching me in this effort of laboring until Christ is formed in my kids the more excited I am, I know His word is true. This is His will for us as Christians and as moms. For me, I need to begin looking for ways to teach my kids truths about Jesus from the Old Testament and be prayerful about how to do that. One thing I've done is purchased the Family Guide to Biblical Holidays from Heart of Wisdom. I just received it today and reading through the intro I was so blessed by the grace and truth. I can't wait to get started. I want to do as Jesus said, and teach HIM as the fullfillment of the law (Matt.5:17-19). God made these holidays to teach His kids, not as a means of making yourself righteous, but to learn of Him, and He's the best Father. He knows our kids learn, we learn, when we're doing things that visually grip us. I'm looking forward to it.

What about you? How do you think you can labor until Christ is formed in your kids? How would you apply this to your life specifically?

1 comment:

Cherishing Young Biblical Womanhood said...

What a wonderful post. I'm going to print it and read it in depth later. I love your heart to be a Timothy mom. I pray that we can all learn alot.