“Seek out the blessing of a spiritual father, someone with whom you commit to live out your Christian life in an intimate relationship of vulnerability and trust.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – January 20, 2022
For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 1 Corinthians 4:15, ESV
As I was coming of age, I was blessed with many positive role models and influences in my life: coaches, teachers, and youth leaders immediately come to mind. In both their words and deeds, these men modelled for me some aspect of what it meant to lead a good life and be a faithful man. However, helpful as their influence surely was, they were not and could never be a father. A father figure? Perhaps. But we must recognize the difference between fatherly traits and the reality of a true father.
In my mind, the differentiating reality is one of stability, commitment, and permanence. The “father figures” from my adolescent years all have one thing in common: they walked out of my life as easily as they walked into it. Sports seasons reach an abrupt end. Teachers change with every year. Youth leaders come and go at an alarming rate. Yet a father, even one who is deeply broken and abandons his vocation of fatherhood, remains biologically and emotionally tied to a child, and the child to that man.
In 1 Corinthians 4, St. Paul reminds that early Christian community of a profound spiritual truth. Within the family of faith, there are parent/child relationships that are just as real and deep as the biological bonds between a father and his child. Paul says he is their father, not their teacher or mentor. In fact, he is quick to point out that they have “countless guides in Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:5). And helpful as these may be, they are no substitute for the depth of love and commitment that comes from a father.
While God alone is our true and perfect father, in his wisdom and love he invites us to live in familial relationships of trust with other members of the Christian family. And while guides are helpful and surely have their place, do not mistake them for the irreplaceable gift of a spiritual father. While podcasts, sermons, inspirational books, and yes, even daily devotionals all are of great spiritual benefit, they are an entirely one sided relationship. You may gain wisdom and insight from them, but you never truly know them, and they do not know you.
In addition to the gift of a biological father, which at its best can be a relationship of untold love and depth, seek out the blessing of a spiritual father, someone with whom you commit to live out your Christian life in an intimate relationship of vulnerability and trust. Guides may come and go, but we all need a father.
Father, thank you for the gift of earthly fathers, both biological and spiritual. May we continue to live lives characterized by vulnerability and trust, looking ultimately to you as our perfect father and lover of our souls, through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.
Take time today to reflect upon the difference in a guide and a father in the faith, asking the Lord to identify places of relational need and guidance in your life.
10,000 Fathers featuring Lauren Settembrini: No Story You Can’t Redeem
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