The first thing I’d say is this…
When I preach about parenting, even though I am speaking primarily with parents in mind, I am by no means addressing parents exclusively. I believe that Bible passages that speak about children have relevance for parents yes, but also to grandparents, to aunts, to uncles—both biological and honorary aunts and uncles—as well as to older children who have responsibility over younger siblings or younger cousins. Then there’s Sunday School teachers too, you need to hear this stuff. And last but perhaps most importantly, there’s the responsibility that we all have to pray. I hope that you will be urged on to pray for parents in this congregation with their responsibility, and for the children too!
But what’s more… you may not be a parent now, but you might be one day! Listen now while you have the chance to listen! You’ll find it a lot harder to listen when you have a child pulling at your sleeve during the service.
Many of you students and young people will be parents in the next five to ten years or so years—not all of you—but many of you will be. Many of you know of a student who came to AP, met his future wife in his first year, married her in his third year and they had a baby by the time he graduated. That’s not that uncommon!
So, you certainly need to pay attention if you are of child-bearing age.
But how about this also…
Think about the Apostle Paul for example and how he wrote his letters. There are numerous points in his letters in which he addresses specific people. Paul speaks directly to slaves, to masters, to wives, to husbands, to children, to mothers, to fathers. And then he even speaks to specific individuals… to Euodia and to Synteche, to Timothy and to Titus. Now would you have dared think, when Paul wrote these words, “O Paul’s speaking to wives—or whoever it was—I am not a wife, therefore this has no significance to me and so—IRRELEVANT.” No. That’s not the right approach at all is it? Paul wrote to specific people in the hearing of others. And that was not a coincidence.
I had a Bible study this week with someone and the Bible study was all about how to be a good pastor, the person I met with was not a pastor, but he found much relevance in what was said. He could pray for me in a more informed way, if nothing else.
So, yes, on Sunday, I am going to preach again about parenting, because that’s what much of Exodus 13 is about. But if you’re not a parent, first of all realise that this does affect you—non-parents have plenty of responsibility over kids; but also, you might be a parents one day; and also even if these instructions are “just” for the realm of prayer, that’s very important! And by the way, please realise that prayer is not ever “just” prayer, no matter how many times preachers say “let’s just pray”.
So it’s indirectly for you, even if you’re not a parent. But also even if it’s not directly for you, I make no apologies for imitating the apostle Paul in addressing specific people—mothers, masters, children etc.—in the presence of other people—fathers, slaves, adults etc.