Categories
Christianity

The Power Of Perspective

So much of what we think and say about the world is centred on what we perceive of it as individuals. What I see, feel, hear, experience… Even in the Church, many of conversations revolve around me, myself and I.

Indeed, there is a place for our introspection as individuals. After all, no one sees the world in the exact same way as the next person. Each of us is the unique total of our past, present and future.

But I constantly wonder about how much faith and trust we put in what we perceive as individuals. Especially as believers.

Our perspective of life as individuals is limited. Extremely so. In a world as vast as ours, and with a God whose magnitude is beyond our comprehension, it’s a lofty thing to imagine that we could possibly know enough as individuals to be accurate judges of life.

Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.  And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen,  while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.  If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

1 Corinthians 12:14-27 NLT

If we don’t understand why the Body of Christ exists, we will not supply into it and benefit from it as we should.

If we don’t understand why we express our faith differently as believers within the same church community, we will miss out on the blessing and breakthrough we’re carrying for each other.

Many of the faith arguments I come across remind me of this analogy of two blind men trying to describe an elephant. One is touching the elephant’s trunk and describing it accurately. The other is touching the elephant’s tail and describing it accurately. But because of their blindness they don’t realize they’re both right and keep arguing over whose description is correct.

Truth be told, we’re wasting so much time as believers arguing like the two blind men over trunks and tails. Only, we don’t even seem to realize just how blind we are.  

Maybe the reason we see and experience God differently is because He has positioned us in life in different ways. No single believer, ministry, church, community, tribe or race has the ability to fully comprehend all there is to God. Each one of us gets a different piece of the puzzle and only when we come together can we get the full picture.

Now, this is not an excuse for erroneous doctrine and errant practices in the name of God. There’s a fine line we must all walk in discerning what we simply don’t know and what is completely wrong.

Unfortunately, we often collapse the two. Because I have no record of this thing you’re saying/doing in my journey of faith, then you must be wrong. As if God is obligated to move in their life in the exact same manner that He has moved in yours.

Yet, if we were truly to connect with each other in love as the Body, we would be better able to keep each other in check. It’s always ironic to see believers on opposing ends of a matter who don’t realize that if they were to genuinely acknowledge each other’s perspectives, they’d realize they’ve both been right in some things and both been wrong in others.

What if we laid down our pride and humbly admitted to ourselves and others that we do get it wrong sometimes?

What if we laid down our pride and humbly accepted that we don’t know everything there is to God and faith and Christianity, no matter how many years we’ve been saved?

What if we laid down our pride and humbly submitted ourselves to the Holy Spirit to help us discern that which is beyond our experience?

What if we laid down our pride and humbly acknowledged that our Christianity is incomplete without the rest of the Body and we truly need each other?

What if we laid down our pride and humbly created bridges with each other as members of the same Body?

It doesn’t mean that we’ll always understand one another or agree on everything. But it does mean that we’ll be looking beyond ourselves to someone greater – Jesus.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

John 17: 20-23 ESV

In this last prayer Jesus made before His ascension, He prayed for the unity of the Body. Out of all the things He could have prayed for in this pivotal hour, this was one of the critical things He chose.

Christ is the Head of our Body. Not any believer (in leadership or not) or denomination or church community or doctrine or race or nation. Christ. Maybe if we step out of our little cultural, denominational and faith bubbles, we’ll realize just how blind we’ve been to the greater work of His kingdom that’s at stake. A work that cannot be done by one church community and requires us all to do our part, not in silos but together in fellowship and in unity.

If the sum total of your Christianity doesn’t include anyone or anything beyond your typical Sunday Christian circles, it may be time to widen your gaze and start looking for some bridges to walk across. If you can’t find them, build them.

We cannot afford to let our pride and fear get in the way of our unity anymore. Not in this day and age. Find your place in Christ’s Body. Do your part for its well-being. It’s far from easy. It will require you to do hard and holy things, as Ann Voskamp puts it. But what lies ahead of us in light of our unity makes it all the more worth it.

Categories
Marriage Bed

Why Are You Getting Children?

This is the second post in a 3-part series on a fundamental aspect of marriage and family – having children.

Part 1: When Are You Having Children?

Part 2: Why Are You Getting Children?

Part 3: Waiting To Have Children

There are girls who dream of their weddings from a very early age.

There are those who dream of being mothers at an early age too.

I was neither one.

My nose was too far down a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys novel to be bothered.

I did mention I’m a zagger in the previous post, didn’t I?

Eventually, I did become a wife and I was content. Motherhood would come when it did and I had no desire to rush into it. Between my conversations with God and His revelations of our children, I wasn’t taking the role lightly.

My slow pace and depth of inquiry led me to some aha moments. Some of which I want to share here.

In all the flurry and unwarranted pressure that comes with the query of when a couple is going to have children, there are some pillars of parenting that end up getting ignored.

I think there are two fundamental questions any serious Christian couple in a divine marriage need to ask.

1. Has God ordained us for parenting? If He has, what form of parenting?

You would think it’s automatic that every married couple must bear children.

What of couples God has ordained for a different life with no children of their own but certainly not lacking in love for the children in their lives? Just because they’re rare, doesn’t mean they don’t (rightfully) exist.

What of couples who get married/re-married in their sunset years who have no desire or grace to pull an Abraham and Sarah on the world?

You would also think it’s automatic that the way a married couple (man and woman) will have children is with the wife carrying the baby to full term.

Yet there are couples who are called to foster and adopt children who they may not have physically birthed but are their children in every sense of the word. And that’s a broad and meaningful sense.

This may or may not be in addition to having biological children. And they’d be quite content with the lot God has given them in life were it not for us well-meaning folk and our incessant inability to mind our business.

One of the things I love about God is how He actively refuses to enter the tiny, obvious and rather ridiculous boxes we insist on putting Him in. Yes, we are called to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. But He was speaking about more than just children and He certainly never said there was only one way to go about it.

2. Why is God giving us children (in whatever capacity)?

We rarely go beyond – to multiply and fill the earth – which is probably why we’re so prone to using it as a weapon on couples in the name of encouraging them.

So here’s a lesson in toddlerism – follow up your first why with an immediate second why. And then another why…and another…

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Purpose will help you understand why you’re parents/going to become parents.

Why are we filling the earth?

People have children for a myriad of reasons.

Because they believe they’re supposed to.

Because they want to prove people wrong.

Because they want to prove people right.

Because they’re looking for a do-over in life.

Because they want to be accepted.

Because first comes love, then marriage, then babies in a carriage….

I could go on and on.

To put it bluntly, there’s a scaring number of us who consider children our property. God-given, yes, but property nonetheless. It’s in the way we talk and in the way we act concerning them.

We own them as though they emanated directly from our loins and not first from God in eternity. As though the God who knew them before they were knitted in the womb has no claim to them now besides the pittance we throw His way.

This is why I’m up in arms concerning the conversations that precede a child’s conception and birth. If we believe we’re entitled to them before they’re even born – whether as parents, family, friends, church or society – we’ll automatically expect them to continue fulfilling our desires throughout their lives as they did by being born at our beck and call.

There’s one fundamental flaw with that.

Children are not born to meet our desires. They’re born (and live) to fulfill their God-given destiny.

Every whim of expectation and desire we have concerning them has to be submitted to God. This is especially so where brokenness exists in us. And there’s plenty of it in our hearts and homes.

There is only one child in the history of mankind who had the ability to save. He was born in a manger in a tale we’re all familiar with.

All other children before, during and after His time on earth, are called to express the finished work of Christ or foreshadow the same. They’re called to manifest Christ not to become Christ.

Yet look at the roles we’re assigning children.

To give us a second chance (by living the life we wish we had).

To give us a sense of self-worth.

To complete us (and/or our marriages/families).

To make us/our spouses/our relatives/our friends/society happy.

To prove our manhood/masculinity or womanhood/femininity.

It’s all about us, us, us, us and us. What about God? What about them?

They’re doomed to fail before they even take their first breath because we’ve put them on a life mission that their Creator never gave them. A mission that we’ve heaped on them because we either don’t know, have forgotten or completely disregarded our place as stewards.

Stewards, not creators.

Yes, God will use our children to minister to us. They will minister to our brokenness in ways we cannot fathom. In many ways, God will also use them to meet our (healthy) desires. But they will do so on His terms, not ours.

So does God’s why match your why?

My husband and I aren’t idly waiting to have kids plonked into our arms. We’re actively submitting our hearts to God to ensure we’re aligned to what He wants us to do with these babies who are first His, before they become ours.

So I will not allow, in any measure, for anyone to assign their humanistic goals to our children, for themselves, or on our behalf. If you think I’m being difficult now, wait till they’re born. The Momma Bear in me is raring and ready to go.

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Purpose (why) will help you understand when to be parents.

In my conversations with God, one of the shockingly simple things He explained to me was that there are some couples who think they’re barren, who have been declared infertile by doctors, yet the only issue is that it simply isn’t time for those children to be born yet. Go figure.

There’s also the flipside where you can’t hold back a child whose time has come. Haven’t we all heard of stories where a family planning method fell through? While that child may be a surprise to their parents, they are neither a surprise nor an accident from God’s perspective.

It’s imperative that a couple trusts God all the more to raise such a child because if they hold on to feeling like that child “wasn’t part of the plan”, “came at the wrong time”, or “should never have been”, it will have a negative spiritual impact on the child’s well-being. You’ll wonder why they act out in certain ways later in life yet they’ve been dealing with rejection since they were in the womb.

The institution of family has been under attack by the devil for millennia because of the power vested within it. He will attack everything from conception, to pregnancy, to childbirth, to a child’s life all the way into their adult years.

We can’t wage a war we don’t even know we’re in or whose seasons we don’t understand. Battling with the devil to bring forth a conception in the wrong season is redundant. Sitting back and waiting to have a merry time because God has spoken that it’s time is also equally detrimental.

If we rely more on medical experts and any self-proclaimed experts than God for the wellbeing of our children, there’s a crisis waiting to happen. With all their expertise, the best doctors can do is attempt to treat the body that bears the symptoms of an issue. Every attack we face as believers originates in the realms of the spirit. If you don’t address that which is spirit, in the spirit, then the odds are heavily stacked against you and your child/children.

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Purpose will help you understand how to be parents.

An oversimplified definition of parenting is raising children into mature adults.

But what are you raising them into if you don’t even know what they’re supposed to eventually look like?

The world can temporarily get away with the generic – good, productive members of society. We don’t have that luxury as believers. Not when we have Christ and all of heaven backing us.

The same way God created us in His image and likeness, our children too are created in His image and likeness. Parenting is one of the make-or-break determinants of whether they actually end up looking like Him or looking like us. It’s sheer irony how many parents punish their children for being an accurate mirror of who they (parents) are.

For the sake of balance, I must also add, that as we trust God to find out who our children are to become, we must also trust Him for how to raise them into that. Don’t be hasty to act on a fragment of revelation to the detriment of your child. If God had to tell you what they are called to be, don’t assume you know how to raise them to be. Especially if their call is similar to yours.

God is practical. Extremely so. For instance, if He reveals to you that one of your children will be a musician, there are certain traits and interests you shouldn’t be surprised to see in that child. There are things you can proactively do – as the Lord leads – to create an environment for this child to become e.g. music lessons.

We’ve spent too much time looking to society and the world’s definition of achievement to tell us how to raise our children and give them the best chance of success. We need to get into our prayer closets for a change and actually inquire of the One who made them. It’s would be tragic if our children, our supposedly Christian children, reached the greatest heights of worldly success only to fail miserably in making their mark in the Kingdom they actually emanated from.

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Purpose will help you sustain the health of your marriage as you parent your children.

This begins even before the children are born. With all the pressure that gets heaped on married couples to have children, conceiving those children can quickly become a toxic journey.

Instead of sex being an expression of love, it can morph into a functional tool to create flesh and blood. As though created beings could solely create a being. How quickly we forget that like us, babies are not merely flesh and bone. They’re spirit and soul too, something that we have contend for from the word go.

Rather than a couple journeying together, a blame game can ensue, often courtesy of seeds planted by the enemy through ignorant loved ones. It was Peter, a beloved disciple, not Judas, that Jesus had to rebuke.

I’ve observed that we tend to focus on the birth of children the way we focus on planning weddings. In the process, we inadvertently forget that there is life after their birth, just like there is a marriage to sustain after the wedding. The foundation of the environment these children are growing up in is the marriage. So it needs to be kept healthy not just for the sake of the children but also for the sake of the man and woman in the union.

A husband and a wife can each have their individual desires and expectations when it comes to children. But when they choose to exalt and prioritize that which God has laid out for them, it bears the fruit of unity and oneness in having and raising those children.

Again, the reason I’m keen on the conversations preceding the birth of children, is because they eventually grow up and leave. Empty nest syndrome can easily occur especially if one or both parents had made their children the centre of their lives rather than Christ. There are marriages that have to be jump started back to life when the children leave the nest because they were abandoned to die when the children were born. Not to mention, it’s easy to start looking (and demanding) for replacements in the form of grandchildren; a pursuit that a vast majority of couples have borne the brunt of from their parent(s).

If we start off parenting on the wrong foundation – a foundation other than the truth of God for the couple and their children – that house will eventually come tumbling down. Even if it takes decades to do so.

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Why do you have children? Why do you want to have children? Is it the same reason why God has given/wants to give you these children?

How you choose to proceed will affect your destiny as a couple, that of your children and that of every person God has created them to impact. It is not a conversation that should be rushed, pressured or taken lightly.

May you find the requisite truth for your situation and contend for it with the help of the Holy Spirit.

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Part 1: When Are You Having Children?

Part 3: Waiting To Have Children