It is one thing to critique the endless parsing of Gospel application, as I have done in the previous post. It is another to advocate what is simple and good.
Many years ago I developed a test of all ministry principles and practices. It’s called the “Does it work for a single parent mother of 3 young kids?” test.
A single parent mother with three kids, whose life at home is bound and ruled by the ceaseless needs and demands of those little ones, must be considered. When I stand up before a church and advocate certain practices, or write a book and call people to a set of disciplines, it has to work for her.
Godliness, in Christ, is accessible to her. Godliness is not for the intellectual. It is not for the leisurely. Christ died and rose again so that young Mom can be conformed to the image of the Son, to make her holy ans blameless.
I try to remember that the NT was written to illiterate peasants as well as some educated folks. It was written to people who worked every waking hour just to survive, let alone prosper. The best example of that in my USA world is the single parent Mom, with 3 young kids.
Telling her that 2 hours of daily Bible reading and prayer is foundational just doesn’t float. She is trying to get two hours of continuous sleep at night. Giving her book after book to read won’t work. She is working on bedtime stories for those kids. Asking her to weight her motives before she acts, to make sure she is feeding on her justification is placing a burden on her. Most of her day is response to the immediate needs of her children. She has to act quickly. She hardly has an idle thought about herself, her needs, or her motives. (And that may be glorious!)
So theologians and gospel-parsers, let’s take note of her. She can practice a few disciplines of Gospel remembrance. She can treasure these things in her heart all day. Gospel based living is available to her.
Here is what she can do to live in the good of the Gospel. Here is what we all can do.
1. Start the day reminding yourself that Christ died for your sins. That God has fully accepted you because of Jesus sacrifice. Start the day in his favor, no matter what you did yesterday. You live in his favor all day.
2. Start the day reminding yourself that God is at work in us. The Spirit of God is making you more and more like Christ. God designs every circumstance in your day for that. He is the One who makes me want to please God.
3. Ask him for the Spirit to help you please him, and when you sin, to admit it to him.
4. Get on with the day. Seek to please your Father.
5. When you get a moment free, remind yourself that because of Christ you stand in God’s favor. Remind yourself God the Spirit is at work in you.
6. At the end of the day, as you crash into sleep, remind yourself that Christ died for all those sins of the day (name what you can remember). Hide yourself in his sacrifice. Thank God that His favor rests upon you.
7. At the end of the day, thank God that His Spirit was at work in you all day, and he will complete the work he has begun. Thank him that he made you want to please your Father, and helped you admit when you did not.
I think that is simple. I think it is sola fidei, sola gratia, links justification and sanctification, wars against self-righteousness, feeds on grace, and does not turn gospel centeredness into a burden that few can bear.
Oh, and while we are at it, let’s find a way to give these single parent moms and other young moms both honor for their lives of service, and help so they can get some extended time before the Lord. Husbands, maybe you can take those kids on Saturday morning, send your wife to Starbucks, and let her have a few delicious hours of quietness. Pastors, look for ways your people can serve these Moms who have no husbands.