Our Father

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Photo credit: peterstark.com

And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Matthew 23:9

There are several interesting explanations for this verse. Some assert that this is hyperbole, with Jesus’ point being that the Pharisees of the day should stop seeking high positions of authority and honour for themselves because it corrupted them and they did not lead in love and kindness.

This makes sense, but I particularly loved the one that added that Jesus knew that human fathers and authority figures tended to conduct themselves in authoritarian, heavy handed ways — and he did not want us to form an inaccurate image of God the Father based on images of our own flawed fathers and leaders.

He knew that an image like that would damage our ability to open our minds and hearts to the Father for who he was — the incomparably loving, accepting and gracious person Jesus came to show us he was.

I can just imagine Jesus saying, no, no, NO – he is not like THAT. Our ways are NOT like your ways here on earth, where the powerful ones exploit and lord it over the weak with no concern for them. The hierarchy you act out on earth does not exist in heaven (or even within the Triune God).

In this election season, where it is challenging to identify a wholly honourable presidential candidate, this concept of authentic leadership has heightened relevance. Who is there to believe in? In whom can we put our trust? What would Jesus do?

I believe he would say that there was only one person in whom we could ever put our trust and on whom we could pin our hopes without fear or risk of disappointment.

His Father. Our Father.

According to all accounts, Jesus spent no energy fighting the political system of the day. His aim seems to have been to smash the false idols of the “angry Father god” he knew not to exist. His example, when it came to politics, was one of transcendence. And then he showed us that a real king does not use violence to profit or even to save himself.

So politics is certainly an arena where we can try to follow Jesus’ lead by being in the world but not of the world — by transcending it.

Transcend — to be or go beyond the range or limits of (something abstract, typically a conceptual field or division). Websters Dictionary.

Notice that to transcend in this case does not mean to ignore the reality of life on earth, but rather to not be bound by its seeming limits when it comes to what we hope for.

We are in the world indeed. But as we catch glimpses of what is beyond it, the gift of faith filling in some of the gaps, we may still our pounding hearts and know that whatever is happening here, there is a broader, far more hopeful picture.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

There is no cause for despair.

Have you ever watched an inspiring movie about an historical figure only to be let down when you read more about them and learned that they were not altogether the incredible hero the movie made them out to be?

It’s depressing! Often I regret reading further, preferring to keep my fantasy that there are true heroes, rather than just flawed human beings exhibiting heroism at times and cowardice and even villainy at others.

This, however, seems to be our human condition, and our politicians of the day reflect that. I know myself that when I consider the heroic acts of others, I aspire to them, but I cannot honestly say with all certainty that I would be brave enough to act as they did in that moment.

I take great comfort in the fact that as humans we recognise a true hero when we see one, even if it is a fictional one for the most part. Our human spirits all long to see and experience and exhibit that kind of integrity, bravery and sacrifice.

I believe that we recognise it because this is the spirit of God that dwells with and within us. God is everything we could ever dream of. And we were born to grow to be like him.

We, and all the people around us, have the capacity for true integrity and heroism. We may not see it in its fullness in this life, but I believe we will see it ourselves and in all others someday.

In the meantime, we can go easier on the people around us. I wish as much as anyone does that our leaders would exhibit all the qualities that make honourable leaders through and through. But as with the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, it seems that positions of authority corrupt. While this is not okay as such, perhaps not a one of us would behave any differently in similar shoes. (And of course I do not wish to generalise unfairly — there are certainly many men and women in office accomplishing worthy things.)

All we can do is try to live our own lives with as much integrity and love as we can ourselves, knowing that we too will fail at times, but that a new day always follows.

This world will always present a collision between what is and what should be. But we can be encouraged by knowing that what should be, with others and with ourselves, lies just beyond the horizon of our vision. Thanks to God, it is, and it will be.

~ by Jeannine Buntrock

1 comment so far

  1. Natasha on

    Very insightful from our God The Father, Jesus The Son, and The Holy Spirit to show his humanity.😊💚❤️


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