17th June 2018

Father’s Day is Good For You

“‘Honor your father and mother’— which is the first commandment with a promise—‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’”
Ephesians 6:2-3 (NIV)

Father’s Day is celebrated in the U.S. and 69 other countries on the third Sunday in June. Father’s Day and Mother’s Day celebrations give us opportunity to obey the commands given in the Bible to honour our parents. However, those commands present a problem for people who have had abusive parents. What are they supposed to do? While there are no easy answers, it’s important to remember three things: First, that God fully understands what those who were hurt by their parents endured—he sees and cares. Second, that giving honour does not mean condoning or continuing to endure abuse. Third, that the ability to honour those who have abused us does not come from within—it’s a gift from God that involves sharing in the mind of Jesus who willingly died for undeserving sinners (Romans 5:8). With Jesus, by the Spirit, we can give honour to those who don’t deserve it. We do so by looking beyond the pain they’ve caused, and instead of seeking revenge, seeing them as a child created by God. Don’t get me wrong, God does not love the pain they have caused, but he does love the child he created.

Though we may not know all the factors that led a parent to be abusive, we know God did not create them that way and does not want them to remain that way. We also know that our Lord says, “love your enemies,” “pray for those who persecute you,” and “turn the other cheek.” The apostle Paul adds in 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 that we should regard no one (parents included) from a merely human point of view—instead, we should see them in relationship to Jesus, who intends that they become new creations in him, by the Spirit. When we ask God to help us see an abusive parent in that way, our hearts begin to change. We find ourselves less focused on their bad behaviour and more focused on the person God created them to be. Enabled by the Holy Spirit, we see them in the light of Christ—the light of what our Lord intends for them. In that light, we are able to honour our parents because we know that Jesus, as Mediator, stands between us and them—he is Lord and Saviour of that relationship. We also know and trust that Jesus’ purposes for us cannot be thwarted by bad parenting. Through him and by him we have a heavenly Father who graciously rules over all earthly fathers (and mothers).

Giving honour to a parent is not mere emotion—it’s an attitude that comes from faith, hope and love in God through Christ and by the Spirit. It does not require a positive relationship (in some cases, a face-to-face relationship with a badly abusive parent is not possible) and through the Spirit in us we can rise above the bad relationship to extend honour, even if from afar. We do so remembering how Jesus showed incredible honour toward us when we were completely dishonorable. When children see parents honouring their parents, they will likely imitate that behaviour. Despite the challenges, honouring others is a healthy activity for others as well as for ourselves.

Prayer
Father’s Day is a time to honour our human fathers despite their failings. It also helps us to honour our Father in Heaven. We ask you, Father, to help us to focus on our relationship with Jesus, who enables us to grow into his maturity, to love the lovely and the unlovely.
Amen

Study by Joseph Tkach

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About the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Contact:
Email: admin@daybyday.org.uk

 

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