Read Part 1 HERE.
Another way our view of children affects the world is that if our thinking about children is not synonymous with His thinking about children, our entire paradigm of parenting is wrong. Did you hear that? We come into parenting with a completely wrong basis for the way we raise our children if we have the wrong view of them. And when the masses are parenting wrongly, we’ve got a mess.
God’s view of children is that they have a purpose.
So what is the purpose of children?
It’s not what the average Christian thinks it is. Children are not for us. That is in the sense that they are not to make us happy or so we can dress them in cute outfits and put them in beauty pageants. And of course there’s nothing wrong with being proud of our children and putting their pictures on Fb. We think they’re adorable and I’m not saying we can’t take pride in our children. But understand, that isn’t their purpose. That’s not why God gives us children.
One of their purposes—get ready—is to be a weapon in the spiritual battle we are fighting. God said it, not me. The Bible says that we are in spiritual warfare. And children, it says,are given to us as an important tool in the battle. “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior.” There is a very powerful picture in that. And there’s a reason the Bible uses that kind of language in the context of children. I find it interesting what comes next…they will “speak with their enemies.” It doesn’t say, “They will kill their enemies.” The meaning in Hebrew denotes a sense “that they would be distinguished, bring honor to the family, and gratify the heart of the parent, by their valor in defending their city and home.”
Our Spiritual Growth
I say children are not for us, but they are in a different sense. They are for our sanctification and the Lord uses them, I have no doubts, to make us what He wants us to be. I am told often things like, “I don’t have the patience for more than two children”...that’s kind of dangerous thing to say. We really don’t have the liberty to tell God what we can or can’t handle. Think about that from a Christian stand-point…imagine Paul telling God—with all the sacrifice and hardship and torment he was asked to endure–what he did or didn’t have the patience for? It wasn’t about what he felt like he could handle. It was about submitting to the lordship of Christ as a good soldier, come what may. And understanding he might not think he can handle the next thing, but believing God would give the grace needed in the moment it’s needed.
If there’s a woman on the planet who has a patience-deficiency, I”m that woman. I try not to be irritated, but when people say “You must have a ton of patience…” if they only knew the struggle, the crying out to God that I’m not equipped for this–they wouldn’t minimize my struggle with such a careless comment.
It’s not about some special calling on my life; it’s about trusting each day that God will give me the grace to handle what He has given me…are you ready….FOR MY GOOD. And for your good.
Representation of the Church
They are an expansion of the Kingdom and a representation of the church. When God gives children to believers—biologically, through adoption, spiritual children through discipleship, as Paul had, he fully expects that we will inundate them with the gospel—when we rise up, when we lie down, when we walk, when we sit—He fully expects us to make disciples of our “nation” and so it’s the first wave of evangelism God gives to us. In a literal sense, God desires that His Kingdom would increase by the sheer number of children Christian parents have.
I’ve actually had people get offended by this idea. It doesn’t minimize our need to evangelize a lost world. And yet, what is the number one mark of success we give to churches? More people. We get excited when churches start growing, right? We would never turn away a visitor that God sent to our door would we? And rightly so. You know why? The church represents the Bride of Christ. He is our Groom. We are married. In most natural, healthy unions, marriage produces the fruit of children. So when the church grows, it’s natural and normal. It should be growing. That fruitfulness is exemplified, in part, through numbers. And yet family growth is frowned upon. Think for a minute how illogical that is? Why is that? Because we don’t view children the way God does. And I have something to say in part 3 about infertility.
To Bless Us
They are given to us as a blessing. Yes, children were meant to bring us sheer joy. Not without hard work, not without frustrations, not without those days you might want to run away from home…but joy nonetheless. But I’ve noticed that one of the most common things I hear from parents, is, “I can’t handle more than the two.” There seems to be a contradiction between that and God’s claim that they are a blessing. The answer goes back to obedience about how we raise our children. When we have the wrong view, we parent wrongly. When we don’t have a long-term vision, an eternal perspective we parent wrongly, and we actually heap heartache on ourselves, producing children who ARE a burden, rather than a blessing. So we have to do our part, and trust God to do His and embrace our children as a blessing. We also remember that we live in a fallen world where things don’t always go as they should. If a child turns out not to be the kind of blessing you would prefer, look deeper, and see if the blessing is still there, maybe delayed, or maybe in an unexpected place.
When we come to understand that God gives us children into which we are to pour our lives and pass on a legacy of faithfulness, that He gives us children to glorify Himself not as a trophy, that He gives us children because the fruitfulness of marriage speaks to the world about the metaphor of Christ and His church and the intimacy and fruit He desires to give us as a body, when we realize that our children are a mission field that deserve our full attention, then we will have vastly different opinions than those who don’t know the Lord.
When we see them as God sees them, we become parents of soldiers, fully expecting our children to carry the despised cross of Christ into a God-hating culture. What is the purpose of children? What is our purpose? We’re here on business. Don’t we forget that in this cushy, American culture? Yes, we have to go about life on a physical plane. But this isn’t a leisurely stroll through life until we die. We have work to do—we must be about our Father’s business–and understanding the importance of children in that work changes us.
Jesus poured Himself out for a few people every day so they could carry the message of the gospel to the next generation. Can we do any less?
How does God view children? The same way He views you. “I knew you before I formed you.” “I had a plan for you before you even existed.”
What is the purpose of children? The same purpose you and I have—to proclaim the glory of the One who created us.
And to those of you who may be struggling with infertility, I want to encourage you that God has not forgotten you or deemed you unworthy of blessing. There is no righteousness to be found in the number of children one has. There is a supernatural outworking of His purposes in the life of obedience that sometimes looks completely upside down to us. His ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts. Wait for Him. He is for you. Ask Him to show you what His purposes are. Then trust Him. God’s sovereignty is just as important in your life, where He has chosen not to bring children, than in anyone else’s.
Let me share these profound words from Rachel Jancovik about raising children in this culture:
“Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.
Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.
Our culture is simply afraid of death. Laying down your own life, in any way, is terrifying. Strangely, it is that fear that drives the abortion industry: fear that your dreams will die, that your future will die, that your freedom will die—and trying to escape that death by running into the arms of death.
But a Christian should have a different paradigm. We should run to to the cross. To death. So lay down your hopes. Lay down your future. Lay down your petty annoyances. Lay down your desire to be recognized. Lay down your fussiness at your children. Lay down your perfectly clean house. Lay down your grievances about the life you are living. Lay down the imaginary life you could have had by yourself. Let it go.”
Sometimes motherhood is hard. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth all my efforts. In fact, precisely because it is hard is one indication it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be. “In this life, you will have trials; but do not lose heart, I have overcome the world.” And my petty trials are very light compared to the people He spoke these words to.
This is exactly where I’m supposed to be. Those little people—the ones who interrupt me, follow me, ask me a thousand questions, make messes, flush things down the toilet—those little people are my disciples, eternal souls of whom I will stand before the Lord and give an account. Being poured out, at the end of the day, is exactly what I’m called to–it’s what we’re all called to. He expects nothing less. But He is faithful who called you, who also will do it.