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On the Side - February 2014

In the Nursery
by Sharon Chatwell

Have you ever been inside one of the Newborn Nurseries at the hospital?  I have.  In fact, as a medical student, I think I changed one of my first diapers there.  (I still wonder if that diaper actually stayed on.  The person who changed it next must have had something to say on the matter.)

When you look through a Nursery window at a room full of little babies, it’s an awe-inspiring experience.  You look at all of those little persons, at all of that potential wrapped up in such little-bitty packages, and you think about how they have their whole lives in front of them.  After all, they are brand new!

As we peer at their cute little faces, we are still no wiser about their future.  But the Bible tells us that, before they were even born, God knew everything about them.  Psalm 139:13-14 and16 says:  “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  …all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  

Babies all start off looking pretty much the same in the Nursery.  And so, before long, people start trying to find ways to tell them apart.  They are each given little pink or blue hats, depending on their gender.  Cards with their last names are attached to their rolling beds.  And soon they are given a name of their own, which is placed on their birth certificate.  Now they are officially unique individuals.

Soon the babies are taken home, where their families will determine an enormous part of each child’s future.  Things like: where they will live, what language they will speak, where they will go to school, and even what they will learn of God.

Eventually the babies grow up to be very different from one another.  It is then that the rest of us begin noticing the differences and reacting to them according to our own preferences (or biases.)  We may say things about them like:  That one’s too tall, that one’s too short, that one is beautiful, that one has an imperfection… that one is this or that color… that one is yours… this one is mine.

If we are not careful, we can begin to let our biases affect our behavior, or even to cloud our judgment.  This isn’t fair, but it is often what we do.

Jesus entered a world with grave biases.  At that time, people were put into major categories: Male or female, free or slave, Jew or Gentile.  Everything in your life, everything about how other people interacted with you, rested in those distinctions.  People would put up barriers to keep others, who were different from them, away.

During His time here on earth, Jesus challenged those barriers. And, with His Death and His Resurrection, He destroyed them forever; making all things new.

The apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:26-28   So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

As Christians, we are all the same:  We are all sinners saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  All around us in this world we see prejudice and bias.  But when we look at the scriptures we see that these things have no place among those who are in Christ.  We can enjoy fellowship with other believers, whether they are similar to us or not.

In a ministry, with which I’m involved, I often have opportunities to talk to other Christians around the world.  And I have been struck by how much we are alike.

Understand that many of these people are very different from me.  They live in other countries, they speak different languages, and they have every shade of skin color.

Some of them are learning English, which can make it hard for us to correspond.  Others, who speak English very well, have different customs when they speak and write.  I sometimes receive emails which begin with very flowery sentences, like: “My Dear Sister, I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  May God richly bless you.”  Now that’s the way to start an email!

Once on a mission trip in a foreign country, I had the opportunity to address a church group.  Although having visitors was unusual for them, the congregation was still a bit noisy and inattentive.  However, all of the extra activity stopped when I stood in front of them and said, “Until I met all of you today, I didn’t know what I needed to say to you.  Now I do.  I want to tell you that ‘I am just like you; a sinner saved by grace.’”  You could have heard a pin drop.  The statement that we were the same really moved them, as well as me.

As Christians, we are alike.  All the barriers have been broken down.  No matter where we go, when we meet someone who has been baptized into Christ, we meet our brother or sister.  We can enjoy a fellowship with Believers from all around the world, and one day we will enjoy it together forever.

Until that time, let us remember that we, who believe in Jesus, are one in Christ.   Let’s run to Him with our petty grievances and differences.  Let us run to Jesus, who makes all us who believe in Him, one…  No matter how we started off in the Nursery.

Sharon is a wife and mother living in Lincoln, NE.  She and her physician husband, Rick, have taken all four of their children home from the Nursery at one time or another.  She encourages us all to remember that, “No matter how different we may be, as Believers, we are all one in Christ.”