Thursday, January 10, 2008

Family and God's Glory

Last night at the student service I spoke on the 5th Commandment and highlighted its importance. It is, as Paul notes, the first commandment with a promise attached. "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12). My first point to show, in general, why honoring of parents is critical to society for it to function. This, I said, should be self-evident even to those who are not believer's.

The second and third points revovled around the idea that parent-child relationships mirror God's love for us and even serve as a parable for God's love relationship within Himself. That is, we are told by Jesus to call God "Father" as we pray, and Jesus is called God's beloved "Son." When God expresses His affection toward us and His Son, He most often employs the language of family.

This lesson reminded me of the horrors of divorce and the chaos we may reap as a society due to the breakdown of the family. It further drove home the challenge of communicating God's love and relationship to a generation that has never known a father or mother in a healthy relationship. Unless God does a great work, the problem will only get worse.

Francis Schaeffer was told a parable involving parking lot stripes. He said that the reason we can park without chaos is because we have a striped parking lot so we know where to put our cars. He likened a rebellious generation as a generation who removes the stripes. They, despite their rebellion, are still able to park with some semblance of order because they still have a memory of the order the stripes brought. However, the next generation will devolve into chaos piled up at the front door of the supermarket because they have never seen parking lot stripes and have no idea how to maintain order. The divorce of the last generation was terrible, but at least the parents knew how a marriage was supposed to look and how parents should relate to their children. The next generation has no such luxury.

So I am grieved this morning that words like "father", especially father, are nearly a semantic blank for many of our country's youth. Instead of instilling feelings of peace, love, protection, and safety, "father" brings up memories of abandon, anger, and neglect. How very sad for such children, and what a stumbling block to faith that is. This is yet another way in which the image of God has grown dim in us.

The only hope I have, and this is the only hope I ever have, is that in His grace, God will be a father to the fatherless. I know that He is able to rebuild that which is fallen and to repair that which is broken. That is my prayer this morning for those who have no idea the great joy that is ours when we say "Our Father."

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