Building a Foundation to Care for Mothers

Child Welfare

Trip Lee discusses “Building a Foundation to Care for Mothers.” This keynote was given during the 2022 Stand for Life Campus Tour on November 1, 2022, at Cedarville University.

Transcript

Trip Lee: Good morning. Y’all doing good this morning?

Audience: Woo.

Trip Lee: Good. I’m grateful to be here. Grateful for Shane and Shane and Davy leading worship, and been encouraged by them. I remember the first time I heard about Shane and Shane, I said, that’s a strange name for people to call themselves. You just put your names back to back. You didn’t do much brainstorming and it sounds like a strange casual law office. Shane and Shane. They’re backstage, right? Okay.

Audience: No, I’m right here.

Trip Lee:¬†Oh, hey. Hey man. Hey. And I’m so grateful for God’s work in their lives. Now, I’m excited to be here with y’all this morning, and I’m going to pray one more time and then we’ll get started. Father, we come before you again in Jesus’ name. And Father, we come before you because you are God. Father, we are helpless without your strength. Unless you build the house, we labor in vain. Father, unless your spirit works in our hearts, we are, yeah, I’m just the man up here running my mouth. But Father, if you would give me grace to hold your word up and if your spirit would be gracious enough to press it into our hearts, Father, we know that work can be done. So we pray you would do that, Father. Father, we’re grateful we’re fighting a battle you’ve already won.

The obstacles are too big, Father, the evil is too strong. It’s easy to despair and be hopeless, Father, but we cling to your good news, Father. And God, we pray that even now as we look in your word, that you would work in us and help us to see you more clearly. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen. So this morning, what I want to do is, as we’re talking about life, I want to set some foundational things. And I say that because sometimes when we begin to have these kinds of conversations, our entire discussion can get hamstrung about where our starting point is.

Sometimes when it’s big, hot, cultural issues, we just pick up the culture starting points. We pick up their questions and then it changes how we have the conversation overall. So I just want to lay some foundation and then we’ll move forward from there. I’ll tell you just a little bit about me just so you know. If you don’t know me, I’m Trip, I’m a rapper, I’m a preacher. And I have a wife, three kids. And the Lord saved me when I was about 14 years old. And he changed everything about my entire life. And he showed me who he was in his word. And I said, I want to help other people to see God and his word.

Just to tell you about my three kids, my oldest is 10. And the amazing thing about being a young father is because I had kids a little earlier than some of my friends, they would look to me as a source of wisdom. They were like, Trip, it looks like your beard hasn’t even grown in, but I trust you as a source of wisdom. That was 10 years ago. My beard has still not grown in. Somebody said, preach. I stand in solidarity with you, brother, wherever you are. No. So it meant that I seemed like I had some wisdom because I had had kids for a little bit longer than some of my friends. So when some of my friends who were about to have babies were looking forward to it and they were anxious about the thought of even trying to be a dad, what I usually try to do is I just try to demystify it. So they might say, what is the most important thing I need to do in those first few months?

I really need to know because they feel unprepared and they were expecting me to say something extremely profound. But really, I really say, it’s easy than you think. You just are trying to make sure they don’t fall off the changing table, bro, there’s not a lot of hard stuff to do. It’s hard on you physically, you going to be tired, but yeah, you’ll be fine. And you get a nine month ramp. You know what I’m saying? You don’t just wake up. I’m a dad. You usually have time. Now, I do say, now brother, to your wife, she’s been making this child for this whole time, so she’s already been at work. But you, it’s pretty easy. You just have to make sure they don’t fall off the changing table. You can pretend that you one of these people who can decode every whimper and cry. You can’t, right? Stop lying. Just figure out what they want and you just keep guessing until they stop crying and then one day you send them off to college.

Now, that’s the most hilarious applause I’ve ever gotten. And I know that can sound overly simplistic. Some of my friends are like, no, it has to be more than that. I’m just like, look, God is gracious. There’s an on ramp. No dad really knows what they’re doing right away. Every good thing I’ve ever learned about fatherhood, I just got from somebody else. Just learn, it’s fine. Just keep them alive. That’s it. And they may say, no, no, that sounds really simple. I need you to give me something more in depth. And I think sometimes that simplicity is helpful because there are complex things about parenting. And it reminds me of this passage where Jesus sums up the entire Christian life with one word and that word is love.

And it may seem to people like oversimplified. Surely there has to be more than that. There’s very complex things going on in the world. Surely there has to be more than that. But here’s what I think just the main thing that I want to drive home today. Based on what Jesus says in Matthew 22 is that love is the only thing you should ever do. Jesus, what am I supposed to do? Love is the only thing you should ever do. You can turn with me to Matthew 22 if you have your Bibles or your phones. Matthew 22.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the gospel of Matthew. And if you’re not, a little bit of background at this point, Jesus has been teaching for a while. He’s entered Jerusalem with his disciples. We’re getting pretty close to the cross. Right before our section, some religious leaders tried to trip him up, of course, because they don’t like him. They just tried to trick Jesus with questions about the resurrection. Can you imagine trying to trick Jesus? It’s like when my kid try to lie to me about the snacks that I see on their mouth. I’m like, you’re so bad at this.

They’re trying to trick Jesus. And they’ve just gotten silenced. And anytime you get in a verbal argument with somebody and then you just start being quiet, that means you didn’t win. Matthew 22:34, Jesus says this, right? They respond, The Pharisees now say, okay, we want to test Jesus with some questions of our own. Verse 34. “But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Verse 40. “On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets says God’s word.”

Now I guess it’s possible that there could have been someone among them who was sincerely curious, but the Pharisees were just trying to make Jesus look bad. They wasn’t trying to learn, they were trying to do some political maneuvering to make him look bad, and they ask it in a very accusatory way. Okay, which one is the greatest commandment? You know when someone asks a question in an accusatory way, like when you forget your password online and you try to log in and the site is really accusatory? Like, okay, if you really Trip, I need you to answer some questions then. What was the name of your mom’s first grade teacher? And it’s like, did I put that question in? I don’t remember that. Questions can be asked in accusatory ways. They can put you on the defensive. And this is what they’re doing. And the answer that Jesus gives, right?

They’re saying, out of all the commandments, what’s the most important one? Jesus gives a brilliant and true and convicting answer because he not only answers their question, but he goes beyond it and answers every question. And that’s really what I think the main thing is here is that love is the only thing you should ever do. Love is the only action you should ever commit, the only deeds you should ever carry out. You were created to love. Following God means love is what we’re striving for every moment of every day. Love. And it’s not surprising if God has said that he himself is love. Now, that may sound simplistic like my parenting advice, but we’ll flesh it out as we go. Here’s why it may feel simplistic because we live in complex times, lot of issues, lot of controversies to process, the world can feel like it’s burning down around us at all times.

There are racial issues and national issues and government issues, policing issues. Enough to make Christians go crazy to say, how am I supposed to respond to all of this? It’s not a handbook. Is this something I’m supposed to be for or against? Is there someone who can send me an email every week like, okay, here’s what you should be doing this week? The amazing thing is this. We need some kind of filter, we need some kind of principles. And I think this is one of the main ways we should filter all of those questions, including complex issues like the life of the unborn. Our times are complex, but Jesus helps us simplify by reminding us that our marching orders are really simple, to love God and to love neighbor. Everything else is details. Love God, love neighbor. Everything else is details. So we’ll just walk through those two commandments very briefly.

We’ll talk about how it applies to this conversation we’re having. Again, I think this is helpful foundation to build everything else on. Number one, first one he gives is love God. It tells us to love God. And it’s difficult sometimes to figure out what it means to love God because our ideas of love have been so shaped by just the world around us, the world we’ve come up in. But when we talk about loving God, it’s not that we don’t have any affection for him, it’s just not that it’s just affection. It’s not just a feeling. And affection always shows up in committed action. Love is a holy affection for someone and a selfless commitment to them. A selfless commitment to them. It shows up in our action. So we’ll read again what Jesus said. Verse 37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

We know there are a lot of laws in the Old Testament. 613 laws, 60 plus different things God spoke about to his people. And out of all of them, why is it that this one would be the great and first one? It isn’t to say the other ones aren’t important or the other ones aren’t great. But Jesus says this is the greatest one. That’s not surprising, because of course, God is the center of the entire universe and God is the center of all creation. It’s not surprising then that when he tells us how we should live, he would be the center of his commands too.

He says, this is the one of first importance. Now, our world thinks that Christianity can only be good for the loving neighbor part. Like the loving God part, who cares about that part? The loving neighbor part is the only thing that matters. And we just have to understand that unless we have a commitment to loving God, the loving neighbor part is not going to flesh out quite right. Which is why I think so often, our conversations about these kind of life issues can go off the rails, because we’ve tried to figure out how to interact with neighbor forgetting the fact that we’re trying to interact with people made in the image of the God who’s commanded us to love Him first.

And so he not only tells him to love him, he tells us how. With all your heart, all your soul, all your mind. Now, sometimes culturally you would see this and we’d be like, oh, he’s talking about all these different places. Heart. That’s a fuzzy place for Valentine’s Day. Soul, I don’t know, it was a Pixar movie though. Mind, that’s where I like think and stuff. I just want you to know that he’s using these words to drive home a point. This is not, it’s clearly delineated parts of who we are. He’s saying you are to love God with all of your being. Because even scripture talks about heart. It’s not just talking about a fuzzy place. It’s talking about kind of the control center of our entire being. It’s where our will comes from. It’s where our emotions come from. It’s where our thoughts come from.

So when he says heart and with your mind and your soul, he’s saying from the deepest portions of who you are, you are to love God. And we know that all of you, including the deepest portions of who you are, were made by God and for God. You were made to love God. You are not who you were created to be apart from a love for God. That’s how God made us. And that also means there’s no area of our life that should remain untouched by love for God. Your money, your time, your relationships, your sexuality, your identity, the way you interact with other people. You are to love God with all of you. And I will just make a side note here. We often will convince ourselves that it’s okay to love God halfway. We often will convince ourselves like God, I’ll give you most of me, but please don’t touch this particular area.

This is a tough area, or it’s too hard for me to let go of this thing. And I want you to know that you were created to love God with all of you in every single area of your life. If there is something that if God were to say, give me that, you want to keep your hand closed on it, I want to tell you, Jesus is calling us to open those hands and say, God, it’s all yours. My whole heart is yours. My whole mind is yours. My whole soul is yours. I know for a fact that all of us can think of things that we’re withholding. God is saying all of that is mine. Love me with all of it.

One of the interesting things about loving God is we know that other relationships require sacrifice for the relationship to be healthy or for there to be actual love there. But sometimes we think when it comes to God, the only sacrifice he really wants from us is a couple hours on Sunday morning. God is saying all of it is mine. We love God with all of who we are. Loving God means putting his interests above our own, his glory above our own. It means keeping his commandments. It means turning from sin and grabbing a hold of him. We’re called to love God with all of us. The only thing we should ever do is love.

So he talks about loving God. The second command Jesus says is like that greatest commandment is to love neighbor. Now, when we talk about loving neighbor, to some people this automatically sounds like a very happy command because it feels like how they’re wired. I have a friend who travels with me sometimes and he’s extremely extroverted. And when I say extremely extroverted, I don’t think you understand the depths of his extroversion. We will meet somebody. I’m like, we was both in a room with him for five minutes. How do you know his mom’s cousin’s name, bro? Somehow we got back to your house and you had a picture of him in your living room already.

I don’t understand, man, how that’s humanly possible. So he loves being in rooms with lots of people. He loves small talk. Not me. I am an introvert. So to me, small talk is a necessary evil, something you must do to get to a real conversation. So I often, I get someone say preach again. I’m getting the most hilarious preaching encouragement today. Beards and small talk. Is anybody else an introvert? Well, I mean you probably don’t want to draw attention to yourself, but just know I’m with you. Now, here’s the thing. But if we are introverted, then sometimes we can be tempted. And not just for introverts, extroverts too. We can be tempted to think, oh, me loving God means I do all these particular things for God. And it’s okay if I push people out of my way on the way to do things for God. And I just want you to know that loving God and loving neighbor are not completely separate things. They’re two sides of the same coin.

We cannot decide I’m going to love God and just keep to myself. We cannot decide I’m going to love God and be indifferent to the people that are around me. Jesus calls us to love neighbor. I know we have busy lives, especially while we in school. God has called us to love neighbors. I know it’s hard to commit to a church while you in class. God has called us to love neighbor and to love one another. So you know, verse 39, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” If you say you love God, but you aren’t interested in loving neighbor, I don’t believe you.

And I feel okay with saying that because I feel like the Bible speaks this way. Well, the Apostle John was saying in First John and talking to these Christians, he was like, oh, you say you love God, but you don’t love who you can’t see, but you don’t love your brother who you can see. Loving God and loving neighbor. Two sides of the same coin. Loving neighbors are necessary spillover, partly because people are made in the image of God, so it makes sense that if you love God, you love these reflections of who he is. If you came to my house, you were like Trip, I love your mom. And then you saw a picture of her and you spit on her picture and you cut it up in a little pieces, I’d be like, why did you do that? What did my mom ever do to you?

What if you were like, oh no, I’m cool with your mom. I just don’t like this particular image of her. That would make no sense. You obviously have an issue with her. God is saying, I have made people in my image. These are reflections of who I am. The way we treat other people is a reflection on how we feel about God himself. This is how scripture argues about murder sometimes. We cannot murder people because people are made in the image of God. I want you to understand that when you mistreat someone God has made in his image, it says something about the way you feel about the God who created him, the one in whose image they’ve been made. So the doctrine of the image of God, and that’s something we always think about a lot. We’re going to talk about that some more tonight.

But I will say this. If we do not understand what it means for someone to be made in the image of God, we will not understand the worth and value of the people that God has created. And I want to remind you that the thing that’s most important about you is not the thing that’s unique about you. Your particular talents, your particular gifts, the thing that’s most important about you is the thing you have in common with every human being that’s ever existed. You are made in the image of God. There’s no worth and value for you to chase after or to acquire. You are made in the image of God. And this goes for every single human being. And this is why we see in scripture God have a special heart for those who are vulnerable, for those who are marginalized. You could think of a passage like James 5 where James warns the rich. And he says, “Look, the wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvester have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.”

God cares deeply about those who are forgotten and when there’s injustice done to them. And vulnerable. You think about Acts 6 where these widows were being overlooked and they weren’t being fed. In faithfulness to God, they figured out a way to organize things in a way where everybody would be taken care of. We see the prophets often rail against Israel for their treatment of people, including those who are vulnerable like widows and orphans. And we could go on and on and on. I need you to understand that every single person, because we’re all made in the image of God, we do not get to decide who we love.

So as Jesus talks about loving our neighbor, of course we have that interaction where they say, hey Jesus, but who’s our neighbor? And of course, as Jesus interacts with them, the answer is, anyone you come into contact with is your neighbor. The reason they ask him this question though is he tells this story of the Good Samaritan is they’re like, how can I step around this? Of course, because the first two people who came by, that man who was lying in the street bloodied, who needed help, ignoring them. They walked directly past. They stepped over.

One preacher said that those two were thinking, what would happen to me if I help him? Maybe I’ll get robbed. Maybe the same thing would happen to me. One preacher said, but the good Samaritan wasn’t thinking about what would happen to him if he helped him. He thought, what would happen to this man on the ground if I don’t help him? This is what love for neighbor does. So if love is this holy affection and selfless commitment to somebody, what God has called us to do is to love our neighbors in a way where we are seeking their good. So we do not get to decide, I’m going to keep to myself, if we say we love God.

One of my questions for you is, maybe you’re not walking past the man in the street, but who do you walk by figuratively? Who is it that you feel very comfortable not loving his neighbor? You feel very comfortable not thinking of them fully in the image of God. What are the exceptions we have in our mind when we decide this person doesn’t get my full self-sacrifice of love? Of course, in our culture, it is easy for people to treat the unborn that way. It is easy for people to treat those who are in the womb and because we cannot see them, because they cannot speak up for themselves, feel very comfortably with not giving them full status and value and worth as someone made in the image of God as we’ll talk about later tonight. It’s very interesting, the very intimate ways that scripture talks about God’s knowledge of human beings, even while he’s still knitting them together in the womb.

When God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves, when God calls us to treat people as image bearers of him, we don’t get to decide who not to do that to. And this is part of why, for me, this is important foundation. Because when we pick up these conversations from the place our culture starts them, sometimes we have a very incomplete conversation. So when we begin to think about loving neighbor as ourselves, sometimes we are so worried about not loving one neighbor, the unborn, that we completely forget about another neighbor, a pregnant mother who’s in a difficult situation. Anytime there’s an issue that has been so politicized or that has been distorted in your mind enough to where you’re unwilling to ever actually listen to where somebody’s coming from. I think we stopped loving [inaudible 00:24:12]. Scripture calls us to bear one another’s burdens. How can we bear each other’s burdens if we never stop to ask what each other’s burdens are?

My 10-year-old, he really wants another pet. A pet lizard. Terrible pet choice. I mean, God made lizards. They’re great. Not in my house though. And he is like, no dad, I’ll take great care of them. I care about the welfare of our family. And I’m like, bro, I gave you one job with our dog. Just pick up the dog poop. That’s it. That’s it. He never does it. And what I say to him is, I just hope you understand. You’ve lost some credibility with me. Because you say you care, but it hasn’t showed up in your actions, I want you to know that when we say we care about human beings, we love our neighbors as ourselves, and then we say, but we’re picky and choosy about which neighbors to love and who we’re actually going to say is made in the image of God, we have lost credibility.

Because God is very clear. So one of the things I want to encourage you to do as you think about loving neighbor is, as we think about this issue of life, I want you to ask yourself what you’ve done to understand the perspectives of people who are in all kinds of vulnerable situations. Because sometimes we will do things in our own minds where we say, yes, I know this person is in a tough situation, but here’s why they’re in that tough situation because of particular mistakes they’ve made. And I just want you to know that that couldn’t feel less like the gospel of grace we’ve been singing about today. The Jesus we’ve been singing about today is a Jesus who did not wait for us to get it together. Scripture says people wouldn’t even die for a righteous person, but God showed his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Audience: Amen.

Trip Lee: Do you know how easy it is to demonize somebody when you don’t listen to what they have to say? And what we do when we refuse to actually hear anybody’s perspective is we reduce and we minimize their humanity. We’re very gracious with ourselves or people who are on our side of particular arguments and we’re very harsh, reductionistic, and simplistic about others. So we think I have all these reasons why any mistake I make is a mistake or why I have these particular perspectives, but them, it’s just because of this, this, and this. I want you to know that is not loving your neighbor as yourself. Some people say, oh, loving your neighbor as yourself, that means you got to love yourself before you love others. Sounds cute. It’s not what Jesus is saying.

Audience: Amen.

Trip Lee: Scripture assumes we love ourselves. Scripture assumes a commitment to self. Scripture assumes a self-interest. That’s why you brushed your teeth this morning, Lord willing, because you didn’t want people to recoil when you say good morning. Some of y’all no longer have the shield of a mask and you got to face a lot of stuff now. There’s a reason if a car is coming and we jump out of the way. There is a self-interest there. We are relentlessly committed to our own good. What Jesus says is the way you’re committed to your own good, any sacrifice you’ll make for your good, I want you to make that sacrifice for your neighbor. That means fighting for vulnerable unborn, that means understanding and fighting for pregnant mothers.

And I think if we root our conversation about this in our love for God and our love for neighbor, we can start from a much better place. So there’s so much more to say. There’s so much more to dive into about what it means to be made in the image of God and how that makes us interact with each other. But I just wanted to root that conversation back there. Verse 40, and I’ll end here. He says, “On these two commandments, love God, love neighbor, depend all the law and the prophets.” That word there for depend is like hang. So it’s almost like love is the nail that every single command of God is like. It’s like a nail that you come in your house, you put your keys on it, you hang your jacket on it. Everything that God has called you to do, everything God has called you to be, every interaction with every person, every bit of schoolwork, every conversation you have on the way, all of it is meant to hang on that nail of love.

Every command God has given us. My prayer is that especially when we have these hot button cultural conversations, we would remember the values we’re fighting for are not ours. This is not an us versus them. This is loving the God who made us and loving the people that this God made with everything we have. Amen. Can I pray? Father, we thank you so much for who you are. We thank you so much for how gracious you’ve been to us. And Lord, we pray you would help us to honor you, to love you with all we have and to love our neighbors as ourself. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen. You’re dismissed.