My college Western Lit. professor called it “the cat cough”. It’s that sound we make when we’re annoyed with some person or some circumstance. We furrow our brow, flare our nostrils as if we’ve just smelled something foul, and let out a short, truncated burst of air from our lungs that says more about our mood in that moment than a ten-minute soliloquy. The cat cough has popularly been followed by the word “whatever” with the younger crowd, but make no mistake, we’ve all let it fly.
I thought of the cat cough yesterday when I read a paragraph in John MacArthur’s book, The Master’s Plan for the Church yesterday. In it MacArthur writes, “The families of a church should uphold each other.” This is a statement that resonates with me because the weight of parenting has left me with a clear realization of how much I need other people who love God to also love my kids and help me point them to Jesus. But this realization does not mean that I, myself, have always done a good job of doing that with our church members’ kids.
Later in the paragraph, MacArthur asks the question, “What is your reaction when you see unruly children?” Sadly, for me, I have let the cat cough expel from my lungs on far too many occasions. This response is a proud, un-Christ-like response that shames me to admit, but what should I do instead? What should I put on after I’ve put off proud, self-righteousness? After reminding myself of my great need and Christ’s sacrifice to provide for that need, I think MacArthur’s next question gives us a good answer: “Do you pray for them?”
Do we pray for those children and their parents? Do we pray for the salvation of those kids? Do we pray for their parents to have wisdom and balance in the way they approach disobedience? Do we pray for them? And I don’t mean in a falsely humble way like the Pharisee in the temple in Luke 18:9-14. I mean praying like a person who recognizes that we are all dependent on the grace of God and if not for his kindness we would all be sunk. Church, if the families in our churches are going to uphold each other, then we should start with prayer.