I suspect that many people have already worked out that in certain respects I am a very shallow person. One area where that would be true is in my choice of films. My preference is for films that involve overly macho characters running around in unlikely situations causing far more mayhem and damage than seems possible, let alone advisable. These are not films that reflect Christian character, nor do they extol the virtues of peace, self-restraint and gentleness that I aspire to in real life.
Having said all of that I was greatly surprised with two such films that I watched recently, to realise that these films, which I just thought were about people shooting each other and blowing things up, were in fact about fatherhood. It was only when the body count was beginning to stack up that I stumbled across this insight but the more I watched, the more it became apparent.
I’ve been thinking about this matter of fatherhood quite a lot recently. Perhaps this is because I’m very conscious at present of several factors, not the least of which is the approaching joy of becoming a grandfather for the first time; but that isn’t the only reason.
God identifies Himself to us in many ways but one of the most, perhaps the most, prominent is as a Father. Jesus understood this well and talked of Himself as the son, we frequently refer to Him as the Son of God. He taught us to address God in prayer as ‘Our Father’ and so this whole theme continues through the New Testament.
The apostle Paul frequently teaches about the Father in Heaven but he also talks about the role of earthly fathers; when he does this though he seems to do so in two different ways. There are biological fathers, those that give us life and, thankfully in most cases, were responsible for helping to care for us and guide us into adulthood. In addition, there are also people that Paul refers to as fathers but who fulfil a different role. They could be seen more as fathers in our faith journeys, those we look to and receive from in respect to our spiritual development, our wisdom, our gifts and contribution to the life of the body of Christ and the Kingdom of God.
Hold on though, whilst I’m at this point I want to be clear that I have no intention of misrepresenting motherhood here. My conviction is that both roles are really important in parenting, both biologically and spiritually. God clearly commends and exalts motherhood and fatherhood and so it might be much more appropriate to talk of the need that we have in the church for spiritual fathers and mothers.
That is my point. We need people in the church who are regarded as spiritual mums and dads. We need people who will provide challenge in their perspective, fearlessness in their faith, wisdom in their advice and grace in their love. We need them individually and corporately. Some of these people may be in our congregation, some of them may have works on our bookshelves and some may be accessible through the internet. Wherever they are to be found, make the most of them. Learn from them in humility, benefit from their experience and aspire to their achievements.
Fathers and mothers are special, so let’s value them.