For any man with children, Fathers Day can be nothing short of intimidating. There are few if any institutions in western civilization that have been more maligned, misinterpreted, and misrepresented. Popular culture has conspired to make Dad into the designated buffoon in every comedy, the unstable variable in every drama, and the villain in every mystery. The generation that insisted on having it all has managed to largely do so at the expense of the generation that has come after, and we are a few funerals away from Israel’s fate in Judges chapter 2. For all the accolades given to Joshua there was one glaring deficiency – his generation didn’t pass on what had been given to them! Similarly, and in our context, the generation that ‘…knew not the Lord’ nor ‘…the works that He had done…’ is being allowed to rewrite the narrative of God’s blessings based on presumptuous second hand information and emotional selectivity. There’s a great quote from the movie ‘The American President” that rightly says that people are starving for leadership, and that…
“…they’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.”
to which the president responds…
“People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.”
I am thoroughly convinced that the generation that invented the internet, social media, crypto-currency, and media church bears some responsibility for the wholesale oversimplification and optionalization of Christian absolutes, and we will bear responsibility for the consequences. Unfortunately, those consequences have not waited for judgment day, and they are relentlessly pulling an entire new generation away toward a new God and new ‘Christianity’ of their own making. I see with my own eyes the hunger for genuine spiritual fathers, and I also see the intimidation in the eyes of natural fathers who realize their own inadequacy to the task. So what is the answer? The best way to deal with the unknown is to deconstruct the source of that confusion. Here’s where the Word is helpful (as usual). It’s as simple a task – and equally vast – as following Isaiah’s prophetic description of those who have inherited the birthright of God’s favor to “….build the old waste places” (Isaiah 58:12).
- Stop making deals with the enemy – arrangements with the world ALWAYS cheapen and diminish the blessings of agreement with heaven – Christianity demands righteousness, not acceptability. Any step toward becoming familiar to the world’s ways is a step away from God’s promise and authentic favor. Give them something to aspire to, not just to identify with. As a somewhat ‘traditional’ pastor, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been called to an emergency situation for people who have been attracted to ‘church’ with people like them, but who wanted to ‘pray’ with someone like Him when the music stops.
- Break the physical connection with anything that hinders the priority of serving the Lord’s purpose. Old-timers grabbed hold of the classical biblical term ‘holiness’ to describe a willingness to let go of distractions in favor of a closer walk with the Master long before the enemy perverted it into legalism. In the all-too-common absence of spiritual fathers, the details of that process are lost. For the same reason a surgeon doesn’t operate on himself, we need people to help us with that whole ‘nurture and admonition of the Lord’ thing, even when the recipients of that influence resist. There’s a name for people with that specific instruction (Ephesians 6:4) – FATHERS!
Dad, don’t be afraid to give specific instruction in righteousness to a generation that has been conditioned to resist it – for them it’s even more important, because they are only a few funerals away from moving from blessing to vulnerability at the hands of the one who is still ‘…seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). Man up, Dad – their future depends on your choice!!