Our Father is a good Father! This morning I was praying and asking God some questions regarding us, His children. Over the last couple of years I have asked Him to allow me to see what He sees and as He sees it. That He would break my heart for what breaks His specifically regarding us, His kids, and rejoice my heart with what rejoices His. I desired that we might be aligned with His heart in all ways, which truly is His heart for us. That we would “walk under His shadow and in His pleasure.” Also, knowing that if we lived this way, each of us, it would naturally lead others to Christ and impact the world.
So, what does a “Good Father” look like? First though, He had me look at my own family and my role as a father. Did I do it well? Well, I can honestly say my goal was that they would know I loved them deeply. That they would have “no doubt.” That they would never feel insecure about my love for them. Now that is a great goal, right? This meant that they always got my attention; that they always had my hugs, smiles, snuggles, comforts … and never felt sad or hurt, ever! I made sure I played with them every day and at every playground or play area. Now, notice how I said I “never” wanted them to feel sad or hurt. Meaning, I gave no discipline because discipline is “sad” and it “hurts.” And to cause my children any kind of pain was so frightening. I was so fearful they would not feel loved; that they would feel rejected and confused about my love for them. Of course, this was a result of my own upbringing but that is not the point here.
Now what does the Bible say a good father looks like? “Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Prov. 13:24, emphasis mine). “Train [discipline] up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb. 12:5-6, emphasis mine). “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph.6:1-4, emphasis mine).
So, how did my sons turn out? They turned out selfish, self-centered, and narcissistic. They both believe they are always correct, and no one can tell them otherwise. Now, there are other pieces which played a role here, such as my ex-wife, but that would get me off track.
The real question is, “where did I go wrong”? Honestly, I “misunderstood” love. I believed that love should always feel good, make you happy, and be comfortable; that it should never correct, never discipline, never cause pain, never rebuke, and never “train in righteousness.” But recently I have written that love is, “doing whatever is in the highest good of another.” And I am convinced that is an excellent definition. For it was for our “highest good,” or best interest, that Christ died for us.
So, what is in our “best interest” as children of God, and as the Body-of-Christ, in the year 2022 in America? I am convinced that for many years now, a majority of American Christianity has been preaching and teaching that God’s love for His children looks like, “hugs, smiles, snuggles, comforts, playing and laughing together, warm embrace, void of discipline, instruction, correction, rebuke, and training in righteousness.” The first is true of a “good Father”… together with the second. But what happens when the love of God for His children is defined only by those first things? The children become self-centered, self-interested, narcissistic, having a false sense of security. Also, they are unable to “hear” correction and rebuke. But a good Father disciplines, rebukes, and corrects His child so that they might “grow to maturity“… in Christ.
I am convinced that we are presently going through a time of discipline, rebuke, and correction nationally, and beyond, as the Body-of-Christ. Let’s suppose for a moment that Pastors and Bible teachers over time began preaching a message which was only half a “gospel” message because they were being compelled by insecurity instead of love. And out of competition with other churches; competition to appear “successful,” and pressure to conform, and fear of rejection, and fear that they will cause sorrow and pain or confusion to anyone in their congregation they neglected to do all that God had called them to do. And so yes, they were liked, and welcomed, and they were connected with the community and have been well thought of by others; but eventually it caused the congregants or “children of the Lord” to be unable to hear correction when they needed it, sadly. Thankfully, the Lord disciplines those He loves. And if we read the letters to the seven churches at the beginning of the book of Revelation together with the epistles of the apostle Paul, we should have a better “balance” of the love of Christ.
Finally, let me end with this: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:12-17, emphasis mine). I am so thankful my Father loves me enough to train me to conform to the image of His Son.