SPIRITUAL FATHERS | How about that?

:
“And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” – Matthew 23:9‭-‬12 ESV

:
A lot of questions have risen concerning the “spiritual father” title among certain believers. A lot of people especially those of the view that you don’t need to submit to any minister of the gospel hold the opinion that it is wrong to call a Pastor your father! Some finds it disturbing especially when “Spiritual” is prefixed to “father”. Personally, I had found it somewhat disturbing too because for me God is all there is to being my Spiritual Father because I wouldn’t know where else to place God if I place someone else on that role! However, that’s my personal view as regards to the word used in addressing the role and not the role itself.
:
My personal definition of Spiritual Father made it difficult for me to address anyone in that capacity not out of disloyalty to anyone but because I understood the meaning differently. Just in the same way I feel uncomfortable using the word “Holy Ghost” instead of “Holy Spirit”. For me, I feel there is a big difference between Spirit and Ghost. Ghost has to do with the Spirit of the dead even though dictionaries of today has started including its definition as just Spirit because of the interchangeable way people use it. So, I’d rather refer to my Pastor as my “father in the faith” rather than “my Spiritual father.” Just note that it is my personal understanding of the words which may not mean the same thing to other people. So, if Spiritual father means “father in faith” to you, its okay. However, I’d like to really throw light on the what Jesus was saying in Matthew 23:9-12.
:
It would be a very big contradiction for the Bible to say we should honor our parents (Exodus 20:12) then come to say later that we shouldn’t call anyone our father! Honor can only be expressed! When honor is not expressed, it doesn’t exist just as unexpressed love is a lie! If God wants us to honor our parents, how would same God in Jesus ask us never to call anyone father? Doesn’t this tell you something? Yes, I hope it does. It tells me personally that Jesus meant something very different. Honor begins with acceptance, the first step to honor is admitting the role of whom you are honoring. So, did Jesus really meant we shouldn’t call anyone our father? Anyone would be any person not excluding our earthly parents. To understand this, we need to look at the context.
:
Before Jesus made that very controversial statement, He was addressing the flaws of religion as practiced by the scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus started out with this statement “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.” – Matthew 23:2‭-‬3 ESV. Jesus started out by admitting the authority of the Scribes and the Pharisees over others because they were occupying the direct position of Moses and were seating on his seat. In the Old Testament, everyone was not equal. Not everyone was seated in the seat of Moses. Irrespective of their excesses, Jesus advised that the people do and observe what they teach them but never do what they do. They teach but they don’t practice. They teach humility, but they don’t practice it. In fact they display pride by announcing stage managed humility. Understanding the beginning of this chapter guides you very well in understanding what Jesus was talking about.
:
The religious leaders of that time were lost in their ambition and quest for honor! They weren’t really gaining honor by serving, they were enforcing honor using power and influence! This was what Jesus was exactly against. Concerning their pride and stage managed show of humility, Jesus continued “They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.” -Matthew 23:5‭-‬7 ESV. Here you see what ministry for them was all about. They were just there for the accolades, they are bent on getting loyalists even if it means blindfolding them with threats of punishment if they resist to honor them. Every good they do is not from the right motive but just for the sake of showbiz! They advertise their good deeds and want to be recognized in every occasion. They get angry when they are invited for meetings and their names don’t appear on the list of the very important persons. They get angry when they attend events and leave unnoticed! They just love the celebrity life and want to be idolized! That is what ministry is for them… Not for the sake and love of Jesus but for the sake of themselves. That was exactly what Jesus was addressing.
:
When Jesus said “call no man your father…”, He was instructing them and us of course never to let anyone take the place of God in our lives! We should never let the words of any man on earth get louder and more meaningful than the word of God. Jesus was saying ” you can follow God blindly trusting His leading but never give such trust to any man on earth regardless of their religious ranking.” He was freeing people from ignorance with which they had looked up to these religious men instead of looking up to God. That wasn’t the only thing Jesus said. The next thing He said will be helpful in understanding this very well… He said “neither be called instructors for you have only one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant…” Isn’t it obvious that Jesus was instituting the only kind of leadership to be found among believers which is “servant leadership.” If He really meant that we shouldn’t call anyone father, then it means we also shouldn’t be called instructors! It means we would have been very wrong to admit we had teachers in school, it would be very wrong to admit we have mentors and coaches! Jesus was never advising us to do away with honor, He wanted to cut out those excesses and bring a balance!
:
The next verse said “whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humble himself will be exalted.” Do you see that? Jesus was addressing the issue of pride in ministry. The motive of every minister should never ever be to have titles and ministers should be careful enough not to let titles get in the way and cause them to stumble. I love Kenneth E. Hagin so much in the sense that he was a Prophet but maintained that he is a brother! He needn’t advertise a title because he knew it was not about the title but about the office! He didn’t exalt himself above others yet he did a lot for the Lord.
:
God doesn’t want us to give the reverence meant for Him to anyone else. It is very wrong and idolatry to look up to, follow and place someone above Jesus Christ! He is the only instructor we have, the only father we have! Our Pastors are serving the purpose of Jesus to us. Men could be leaders of organizations and we must honor them for that but Jesus is the head of the Church and we owe no man any honor due to God. The Bible says Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith, He authored our faith and therefore our faith is in Him alone and not in any other man. When we gaze our looks on men, we make the same mistakes they made but when we gaze our look on God we keep walking in His own direction. You see, no one else meets our Spiritual need but Jesus. So, when Jesus said we shouldn’t call anyone father except God, He was saying no one should be competing with God in our lives! Let me also put it this way, you shouldn’t allow anyone place on you the pressure of giving to them the honor meant for God even if you are just faking it!
:
Like I said before, Jesus didn’t mean we shouldn’t admit people’s roles in our lives, He didn’t mean we shouldn’t honor people who should be honored! In Romans 4:12 Paul referred to Abraham as “our father….” Paul admitted that Abraham was the first to receive the promises of Salvation by faith and by implication he is a model of faith. Paul only acknowledged Abraham’s unwavering faith and that is honor! Abraham was in a sense the metaphorical father of all who believe in Christ. It would have been a big contradiction if Jesus really literally meant that we shouldn’t call anyone father and then Paul goes ahead by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit which is the Spirit of Jesus to call Abraham father! Remember, Jesus said “anyone” and both the living and the dead would be anyone!
:
In 1 Timothy 1:2 we see Paul calling Timothy his true son in faith which in other words means calling himself the father of Timothy in the faith. We see further occurrence of same in 1 Timothy 1:18 and 2 Timothy 1:2 but was Paul merely putting a title on himself in exhibition of pride? Oh no! In fact, after referring to Timothy as his son in 2 Timothy 1:2 he went further to say “May God THE FATHER…” which tells us that Paul wasn’t exalting himself but merely bringing into light the relationship between him and Timothy. As someone he was committed to teaching the gospel and nurturing in faith, Paul was a father figure! One of the duties of fathers is to teach and raise people to the point of responsibility! A profound way we know those who are fake is when they make demands on that title by themselves especially when they contributed nothing to your spiritual growth! The Bible says to “train up a Child in the way he should go…”, anyone who trains up a child is a parent to that Child. There would be fathers in academics, fathers in faith, fathers in business, fathers in every other field! These aren’t titles but what defines roles that people play in our lives and it is not out of place admitting those roles. In Titus 1:4 we see Paul call Titus, his protégé, his son in the faith they have in common. Paul didn’t promote himself as having more faith, he admits they have this faith in common. Paul didn’t just teach these folks, he stayed committed to guiding them and he performed fatherly role as regards to their faith. So Paul was their father in the faith! But even at that, we never saw Paul requiring anyone to brand him with that “father” title. I noted earlier that in the Old Testament, all weren’t equal because not all were seating in the seat of Moses but in the New Testament the bible says we are all seated with Christ in the heavenly places which means we are all brothers even though responsibilities and callings may differ.
:
We know that honoring parents has a promise of long life (Ephesians 6:1-3), I’d like to add that honoring fathers in faith also helps you stay longer in ministry and live a more ministry-fulfilling life. Why is that so? It is because honor helps you heed to instructions, it helps you to obey and it helps you to keep moving. But of course, we know our honor to God is greater than our honor to anyone. If anyone we honor makes mistake, we don’t make mistakes with them, if they say something that you’re aware isn’t biblical, we don’t swallow it! We keep praying for them and we keep walking in the light of God’s word.
:
Acceptance and admittance is part of honor and Jesus said anyone who denies Him publicly will also be denied before God and this gives us a clue that no one who truly honor any man would hide that honor. There is nothing wrong with calling your father in faith or your earthly fathers “father”. Just as you admit your mother, your spouse, your sibling and so on, you can also admit the roles people play in your life. You aren’t exalting people above God by honoring them accordingly, God loves it when you honor those to whom it is due. In Matthew 15:4-6 you also see how Jesus vehemently opposed the idea of using God as an excuse to dishonor parents! I also believe God will detest using Him as an excuse to dishonor anyone to whom honor is due.
:
Blessings.
:
#GracefulGeorge

One thought on “SPIRITUAL FATHERS | How about that?

Add yours

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: