Here’s my presupposition: I believe the highest calling in the body of Christ for a woman is to become a mother in the faith and the highest calling for a man is to become a father in the faith. We all have equal access to those callings.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make [humankind] in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created [humankind] in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:26-27, NIV)
- All people (males and females) are made in the image of God. As such, there is a confluence of majesty and depravity in every human soul. (I believe in total depravity.) This confluence creates a mystery that philosophers and theologians have been debating about for thousands of years…
- The second point is a bit of a side-point, but certainly relevant on Mother’s Day: Notice the order of creation… In the opening verses of Gen 1 we find…The basic elements created first – the sky, land, and sea. Then the sun, moon, and stars are created. This is followed by living creatures: First are fish and birds, and then land animals. Then God creates the next level: Adam – Here’s the question: Is God working in order of sophistication and complexity? If that is true then the woman is the crowning achievement of God’s sophisticated creation in Genesis – and the female is the apex of God’s creative process!!
As we build our case for the high calling of spiritual mother and father-hood, consider…
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…” (Rom 1:1, NIV)
This verse identifies 3 distinctive callings that Paul speaks to:
- A general calling – “a [bond] servant of Christ Jesus.” We ALL share that calling…
- A special calling – Paul was “called to be an apostle.”
- A specific calling – “set apart for the gospel [good news] of God.”
2 main points answering the question: What is a spiritual mother or spiritual father?
- Someone who allows Jesus to rewrite the story of his or her life. (Age and education don’t matter.)
- Someone who helps others rewrite the story of their lives. (This often begins through listening…)
This IS the process of discipleship…The apostle Paul, for example, was literally knocked off his horse and converted in an instant. Before that his life had a very different trajectory – In Phil 3:5-6 Paul announces his pedigree:
“Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.”
He was well-bred, well educated, well-connected, he was zealous, and he was committed…
Acts 9 – Paul’s conversion – he was knocked to the ground he asked a very important question (v.6)…
“Who are you Lord?”
He was no longer his own…
2 very two very important questions…
- Are you allowing Jesus to rewrite the story of your life?
- Do you want to help others rewrite the story of their lives?
What does it mean to allow Jesus to rewrite the story of your life?
1. Understand that you are created in the image of God – we are that mixture of majesty and depravity. (The Psalms tells us that God’s glory rests on every human being.) At birth, and through our early years, we were all handed a life script – or story — for our lives. For some of us that script included significant pain, abuse, and dysfunction.
2. Step in to unknown territory and invite Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to rewrite the script of our lives. (This can be terrifying!) At some point we come to realize that our life script has been stained with sin – we can turn our lives over to a God who is alive and available for an intimate relationship with us — as individuals and as a community of believers. Many of us have false, internalized beliefs – that, for the most part, come out of our families of origin… We’ve believe and internalized statements like:
- I don’t have a right to assert God-infused majestic power
- I’m defective
- I was a mistake
- I am a burden
- I am unlovable
- I don’t belong
- I can’t make mistakes
- I don’t have a right to feel
- I’m a sex object
- We are performance oriented – we have to behave a certain way in order to gain any measure of approval in our lives
Researchers have said that there is the equivalent of millions of miles of film footage about who we are – by the time you we’re 15 years old! We got handed a script in life and, deep inside, we may still believe it. Jesus seeks to rewrite the stories of our lives – and the Bible gives us a new script. Discipleship is allowing God to rewrite the story, or script, of our lives. The 6 principles in the Emotionally Healthy Church are VERY helpful for rewriting the script of our lives
- Looking beneath the surface – What is going on in our interior that is blocking healthy change and growth?
- Breaking the power of the past – Our past affects our present
- Living in brokenness and vulnerability – Owning our own issues and becoming appropriately self-disclosing…
- Receiving the gift of limits – Rejoicing in our limits requires faith in God’s goodness.
- Embracing grief and loss – EHC says this is the only way to effectively develop godly compassion. Grief and joy are connected – if we will grieve our losses, joy will be more accessible.
- Making incarnation our model for living well – to learn to love well is to follow the 3 dynamics of Jesus: enter another’s world, hold on to ourselves, and then live in the tension of the 2 worlds.
3. Look for opportunities to serve and to help other people rewrite the scripts, or stories, of their lives.
This is where we look at our next passage of scripture in Gal 4:19 –
“My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you…”
Paul uses a matriarchal mothering image here to convey his commitment to love and serve people – to come alongside and help them rewrite the script of their lives…
Here’s a question and answer it with one final passage. What is the distinguishing characteristic of a spiritual mother or father?
In 1 John 2:12-14 John identifies 3 basic stages to development: children, young men (or women), and fathers (and mothers) in the faith:
12I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.
13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.
14I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
The distinguishing characteristic of a mother or a father in the faith is that they know Him (Jesus Christ) – who has been from the beginning.
Our society is in desperate need of spiritual mothers and fathers to mentor and nurture others in an authentic Christian spiritually in order to serve the purpose of God in this generation and to do the works of Jesus wherever they work and live.