Father's Day, 6/19/05, P5A

Jesus Has a Father Too
Matthew 10: 28-30

ur U.S. Census Bureau says that there are more phone calls made on Mother's Day than on any other day of the year. However, they also state that on Father's Day there are more collect phone calls made than on any other day of the year.

Dear old Dad, the head of the house and Mother dear is the neck who turns the head.

Actually, in our Christian Homes we strive to follow the admonition to be mutually submissive to each other. Our deep bonding as one unit, the family, is best realized when we honor, love and cherish each other in mutual respect and Christian love. Instead of the top down administrative dogmatic rule, we strive to achieve a new, more pleasant, democratic decision-making process through mutual consensus.

Even the Army is changing by trying to find a more people-friendly structure. They are in a stage of listening to all groups concerned as they seek a better way to work together. My friend, Mitchell Lewis, our Associate at Stone Mountain and the Army Chaplain who was with the group that captured control of the Baghdad Airport, is now the Chaplain's Representative to a Study Committee that will give input to the re-visioning of the Army. One thing is clear; there will be more mutual listening to each other's needs and ideas. No more of that, “Take this gun and shoot it whether it is too heavy or not!”

Children in the family sometimes have helpful and bright ideas. Mothers and fathers usually know best. As the good book teaches, “Wives, submit to your husbands and husbands love and submit to your wives. Children, obey, respect and submit to your parents, in the Lord. Love one another, as you love me.” (see Ephesians 5)

This only works when we are all committed to submission to our Heavenly Father. I suppose that the non-Christian home will have to get along as best it can with Generals, Captains and Privates. In that system, the all knowing and wise head of the house would bark out orders for everyone else to obey. This worked whenever the commanding general was a wise, but often it was a hotbed of abusive situations toward women and children. The New Testament introduced the equality of all believers in the family.

Jesus had a Father too during his thirty, or so, years as a human being. Joseph was his earthly father who taught him carpentry and how to live in an often unfriendly world. Joseph was Jesus' role model in the earthly family. It is interesting to note that Joseph must have respected his wife's abilities for he seemed to share parenting which was not the custom in Roman ruled first century Jewish Palestine.

If you want to read further about this model of “mutual submission,” a good place to start is in the study Bibles that I see many of you bringing to church. The notations in the Life Application Study Bible are real helpful. These helps written for Ephesians chapter five is a good place to begin.

Even if our children are grown and gone we can still begin to mirror a more biblical model of family life. Some of you have grandchildren and grown children need to set up their family structure in a workable and biblical manner which we can help them discover. Otherwise they may resort to the assumptions made by the old Army's “The buck stops here” attitude.

Most modern psychologists have become advocates of the shared role in parenting, or what we Biblicists tend to call Mutual Submission. However, this is not saying that parents do not exert influence, guidance and parameters. It is saying that children need to be brought into the discussion about these guidelines for family life. We need to quit talking baby talk to children at an early age and begin to challenge their powers of cognitive thinking. In the United Methodist Church we typically conduct Membership Training, or Confirmation Classes for children in the sixth grade for by then they should be able to engage in reasoning.

As Christian parents we must make as a first priority bringing up our children in the love and nurture of God and expect them to share in the family's Christian profession of faith. However, Christianity is so much more than a statement of belief in doctrines. It is a lifestyle. It is who we are. So, we must lead our children to become like us as persons who have been saturated by the love, forgiveness an assurance of salvation in Jesus. Our window of opportunity for reaching our children is the best from about grades four through nine: After that many of them will have allowed rebellion to set in. Parents and church ministries together can forestall this rebellion if we can get to them early.

Fathers and mothers do not have to control their children's every move, but they must be involved in everything. Let's bring our children into the family conversations so that they can know that they belong to Christ and that they are loved by their family and by the Family of God here at their church home. It is vital that children be taught to love their church and to know how much it has meant to their experience with the Grace of Christ.

I heard a story this week about a young boy crying on the way home after the Christening of his baby brother. The father asked three times what was wrong. Finally the boy replied, “The Pastor said he wanted us to be brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys.”

And let them know that no matter how old, or grown up, they get, they can always phone their Dad collect, especially on Father's Day.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
Father's Day, 6/19/05, P5A