Friday, June 17, 2005

On Father's Day

Here is a scripture that will not be heard much this weekend: "... call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." (Matt. 23:9) Well, that's just symbolic, a spiritual teaching about the correct attitude in worship, right? What if it isn't? What if Jesus actually meant us to renounce the primacy of our earthly fathers (at maturity) in favor of public and permanent acknowledgement of the fatherhood of God? What if He really intended us never to apply that title as either a name or an honorific to any being apart from God? Did Jesus have to add, "and I really mean it!"?

Fathers were not the only familial relation Jesus treated this way:

"While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. " (Matthew 12:46-50)

Jesus' view of family does not merely transcend what popular culture teaches; His teaching abrogates the teachings of culture. The primacy of the family of God over the family of man has the firmest possible endorsement from Jesus Himself. Yet no teaching is more readily and steadily ignored. Through man's teaching, a beautiful and orderly, joint submission of man to the fatherhood of God has become twisted and distorted into the worship of family (not a bad thing in itself, but horrific when in defiance of God).

Popular culture would have us believe that faith and family exist within an easy confluence of conflict-free streams of living, which extends to the community, nation, and culture. That these images come so often from within the Churches' teaching portals is a further disgrace. But see what Jesus teaches about His followers' relations:

"And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death." (Matthew 10:21)

This has happened many times, throughout history, is happening now, and most assuredly will happen in the future.

Don't worship family; worship God.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a thought-provoking piece!

For the last few weeks in my Sunday School class, people have been talking about saying "no" to "good" sometimes to be able to say "yes" to God. The context has usually been about cutting out good activities to free up time for what God wants us to do, but now I see another application. Even though families are generally good, there may be times when saying "yes" to God may mean stepping away from what our human families want for us.

August 7, 2005 at 8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen! Some are trying to insist on 'family values" precisely because the culture has rejected God's values, and after all, who could argue with "family values"?

But then we find ourselves in a deeper mess - who defines "family values"?

August 8, 2005 at 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus is calling on us to see the real meaning of 'Father', further in and higher up. To let our 'Dad' be the definition of Father is to stop short, perhaps to make God the Father in our Dad's image.

June 19, 2006 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Eshtemoa said...

I have been pondering this subject much in the past few weeks. It seems like in the Church, many people still hold up the natural family as the primary frame of reference, at least in America. In many other places around the world, to become a Christian means to be disowned by your natural family, or even to be killed. In that situation, we would probably adjust our view of "family" drastically. When Jesus was 12 years old, He knew the identity of his real Father.

June 27, 2007 at 10:19 AM  

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