Friday, June 14, 2013
Bottom line – Fathers are for their children
Luke 15:20 -23 And he (the prodigal son) arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
The bottom line on this story was that the younger son was… his father’s son. And that counted above everything. This is what the Bible calls covenant, a specific kind of ‘belonging’ relationship.
In our world, we don’t really understand covenant. Instead we do performance reviews, examination grades, merit points and achievement rewards. How well you do becomes how much you are valued.
This is not an argument for ‘political correctness’ or levelling down or banning competitive sport. It is about how we value people and honour them, in a world that does a lot of putting people down, in various ways. We, as Christians, are called to counter the dishonour by establishing our own culture of honour.
In a covenant relationship, that honour is is not earned, but given. So the son in the story, who was a straight-F failure candidate, wasn’t going to get any bonus points, and he didn’t know what sort of reception he would get – but deep down, he knew he could go back. He was a son of his father. There was covenant.
That has huge implications for our relationship with our heavenly Father. Covenant is unconditional. However, in the family situation, fathers still have that instinct. Unless there has been an extreme breakdown of relationship, belonging is still unconditional. There is cause for rejoicing every time that is rediscovered.
Fathers bless, have a strange knowledge of certain things, bring particular attributes, are able to encourage what is good and rule against what is not good – and can see beyond temporal achievements to a belonging that does not have conditions attached. Why is that? Because fathers are made in the image of God, who Jesus knew and addressed as Father. We fathers don’t do it perfectly and we don’t always do it well – but we do it. The Victorians over-emphasised the father position and male roles in general. We need to recapture honour for fathers, for who they are and for what they bring to all of our lives.
Find a man with a family, in the community or a colleague, and ask him about his children, and whether he feels fathers are important in today’s society. This is a conversation that will almost certainly give you an opportunity to honour someone.