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.