Belonging to a global partnership of churches exposes one not only to great examples of how the Kingdom of God is advancing but also to the deep brokenness of our world. Recently I had the privilege of visiting Jonathan & Tracy King who lead Crossways Church in East London. As well as the local church, they run a safe house for abandoned and orphaned children and babies. They have had over 100 babies through their care many of whom who have found loving homes and adoptive parents.
The orphan situation is heart breaking. These precious children often grow up with more than their fair share of issues. Even though they now can have the best of homes and parenting, the trauma of their abandonment can follow and haunt them into adulthood.
In the spiritual it’s exactly the same. You and I have been made for family, and to be fathered by God. The father heart of God is that we live out of the security of enjoying his love and in being his children. See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
The Fathering problem
But the challenge of today and even in the times of the early church is that many go through life without a father or actually experiencing God’s fathering! Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. (1 Cor. 4:15)
In the beginning each person was made in God’s image, embracing both the masculine and feminine. As we grow up, we too need to experience both aspects to come into a healthy maturity. But often it’s the fathering where there is a huge gap.
I’m often blown away by how well so many single parents cope. They ensure that even though a dad (or a mom) might not be at home, they have introduced their children to the ‘perfect Father’ who is always present, faithful, loving and committed.
One ministry working among UK prisoners thought it would be a good idea for prisoners to deepen contact with their mums and so when Mothers Day came around they offered cards for them to send to their mothers and amazingly there was almost universal uptake. The prison authorities were so impressed that on the back of such a successful project they did the same on Father’s Day. Not a single card was taken!
The fathering problem is actually a spiritual problem. Satan seeks for us to become fatherless, to become orphans, to go through our entire lives experiencing the brokenness of living apart from our heavenly Father. When Adam and Eve fell, everything changed in their relationship with the Father. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 2:8) Adam and Eve hid from the Father because of their sin and shame, and the entire world has been doing the same ever since. It’s not surprising then what Jesus tells his disciples as he prepares to return to the Father. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:18)
Reconnecting to the Father
As Jesus ascended into Heaven he sent the Holy Spirit not only that we can have power for mission and to enable us to walk in holiness, but also to reconnect us in a deep loving and intimate relationship with the Father. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15)
The good news is that we don’t have to live as orphans any longer. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12) We can now daily live in the secure relationship of the perfect Father who loves, cares, who is full of compassion and provides for all of our needs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan is the lead elder of Living Hope Community Church, a four congregation church on the Isle of Man. He’s married to Annette with four daughters and has a passion to see the saints equipped to fulfil their calling in Christ Jesus. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
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