Watching a movie last night, well at ease and content, when suddenly clarity glared into the room and focused its beam on me. The movie, Courageous, previously watched, did not prompt this introspection (or perhaps interrogation of spirit) when viewed a year ago. But last night, it moved mountains to bring me to a place of crystal clear understanding. Watching the lives of the men in the story intertwined and coalesce, through trials and tribulations and testing of their resolve prompted a question in my mind that struggled for the breath to live. Not only to live, but to burst forth in demand to be fed and answered. The question: what did the lack of father's do to these men, their families and their futures, as viewed in the relationships of their faith and their personal relationship with Christ? In each case, the possible lack of fatherly direction, or failure to accept the required roles of a father (per God's standards) led to crisis. Individual and group crisis. The resolve to accept the standard and "fatherly" direction, either from spiritual mentors and/or God's Word (or a combination of both) was the ONLY thing that kept the core together. A commitment beyond mere words or passing occasional get-togethers, was necessary, essential even to produce the result of committed spiritual men and families fellowshipping together as God intended. The failure of commitment and resolve to the standards or to the fatherly input of the others, led to the path of certain failure and devastation to the person's own life and also that of his family's future. Failing to accept the doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness of God through the Word, the structure God ordained for the church and brothers in Christ placed the "fatherless" (influence or experience) in grave danger. On the other hand, accepting the same from the brothers, brought great support and success in the end.
This was a particularly personal revelation for myself, as I considered the last year or two. In the experience of watching a church split, a town be torn apart and many "relationships" destroyed I could never put a common denominator upon the situation other than the works of the flesh being made evident. Until last night. Each of the primary four involved, two couples, were all "fatherless". Some literally, but all experientially. Some experienced abandonment in their lives at a young and impressionable age, some experienced fathers who were never involved in their lives and one had a father die at a young age (both his and the father's). The result: none of them ever learned what it is like to be under a father. Coming to Christ for them was an experience of merging with a peer (in their mind), albeit a really good peer. Submitting to the Father's doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness was only done to the point that they could understand what benefit they would derive from it. To be submitted to a "fatherly" figure, such as Timothy was to his "spiritual" father Paul was unheard of, not understandable and soundly rejected. Discipleship was limited to just walking along the same road as long as there remained agreement between the two. As soon as their was unrest or disagreement, the fatherless will move away to a "safe" place, usually the place that they had found safe in their fatherless-ness before. Truly experiencing the Father, both in blessing and in discipline, is full and unconditional submission to the Father. Until that happens, it will NEVER happen with others, be they pastors, mentors or peers. They will only be tolerated as long as they don't pose a threat to the established path of survival the "fatherless" has proven to themselves to be "safe". Only a great work of God can convince the orphan to accept the Father, otherwise they will only view the one in this place as a source for obtaining something from, never as one called by God to "father" in the manner of Paul, Barnabas or many other examples from the New Testament Church of Jesus Christ.
Adoption comes with Fatherhood; you won't get one without the Other!