I’m currently into a fun stage of Fathering. I get asked questions about all sorts of different things by my kids at different ages, from 10 to 19 years old. I won’t embarrass my kids by listing some of those wonderful questions here!
But as we celebrate Father’s Day for another year, it’s worth recognising that some of the questions, are getting more complicated in our culture. At MAKE we’re in a short series about the Gender Revolution, and we’ve mentioned things like Purple Day and the change in definitions around gender identity vs biological sex. What do Father’s (and Mother’s) say and do with regards to these questions that our children are facing?
Living In A World Under God’s Anger
Last week we talked about how our world shows all the signs of being under the wrath or anger of God. God loves us so much, but as we ignore Him and think we know best, eventually he has no choice but to slowly hand us over to our own way of doing things. Romans 1 gave the expectation that in this situation we’d expect to see increasing sexual immorality, increasing homosexual behaviour and then from there all sorts of wickedness and confusion – exactly what we’re seeing. We also considered how though we might be saddened by our world running away from God, we are not to be the bringers of God’s wrath or punishment upon people, we are to leave room for God to act. ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’, says the Lord (Romans 12:19).
But the question is how do we live in a world like this? What do we do when a work colleague expresses and attitude or an opinion that we know is not honouring to God or good for society? What about when our kids express something like that? What about when we wrestle with desires that we know are not from God? What about when one of our children wrestles with those desires and makes decisions to act on those desires in a way that we know doesn’t please God?
Speaking In A World Under God’s Anger
Recently Lyle Shelton, a past leader of the Australian Christian Lobby, was finally vindicated after a 3 year legal battle, in which he was being sued for sexual vilification of two drag queens. Having critiqued the duo who had performed before 20 children aged between 2 and 8 years old in Brisbane City Council Library, saying they were ‘dangerous role models for our children’. It cost him over $200,000 and 3 years of his life, even though he was vindicated against the charges.
It illustrates the fact that if you do speak, even speak with the heart of Father for children, it can have very real consequences in todays society. This case was heard in Queensland law courts.
What is a Father to do, if he desires to speak truth, in today’s society?
Jesus, The Overcomer of Evil
As we open up the gospels it is very clear that Jesus comes as one who has power and authority over evil. In fact he sets people free of evil, like a demon possessed blind and mute man in Matthew 12:22. Yet as Jesus the innocent one goes about speaking truth, living for His Father and coming against evil, the evil within the religious leaders of the day is exposed. After Jesus had healed a man on the Sabbath a few verses earlier, something that contravened the Pharisees man made laws, they committed to have Jesus put to death (Matthew 12:14). These same Pharisees see the mighty works Jesus does in conquering Satan’s Kingdom, yet because of the evil within them, they call it the work of the Devil (12:24). Jesus makes clear that our words matter:
'I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.' (Matthew 12:31-37)
The religious leaders go on in their own self-righteous wickedness and ask Jesus for a sign. Not that they might believe in Jesus, but so they can test him, catch him out. Jesus lets them know that all they will see is the final overthrow of evil. Just as Jonah the prophet was three days in the belly of a whale for his sin, and then he rose up and preached to the Ninevites in obedience to his heavenly Father, well so Jesus would be three days in the earth for our sin. It’s a reference to His death on the cross, paying our penalty, so that Satan’s accusations can hold no weight, because Jesus has already paid the price for us. Then Jesus would raise and pour out His Spirit of empowered speech, and repentance would be preached to all nations in his name. That would spell the end of Satan’s reign over us.
But what is our responsibility with regard to Jesus the Overcomer of evil?
The Need To Be Full Of Jesus, The Overcomer of Evil
That’s where Jesus tells a very interesting parable:
‘When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.’ (Matthew 12:43-45)
Notice that Jesus says this parable is an explanation of a generation. In many ways it’s a fitting parable to describe our generation. In the West, as we discussed last week, though we live in a society that enjoys all the benefits of being built on foundations that come from the Bible, we have pushed God to the side, swept the house clean so-to-speak, and now we have received seven demons worse than the first that were driven out. There have been more detailed analysis, tracing specific moments that we’ve seen this happening in Western culture. The idols of Israels past, and the demons behind them, are back - Baal, Asherah and Chemosh.
But what fascinates me in Matthew 12 is the fact that Jesus isn’t directing this parable against the wicked ‘unchurched’ people out there. He’s directing it at the religious leaders of the day, he’s directing it at us, in here (if you’re a present day member of organised religion like me). I guess the question that it gets me asking is, what does it mean to have your ‘house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order’? What does it mean to have received a level of deliverance at Jesus hand, but then to be in a position that you might end up worse than at first?
In answering this question, Jesus has been abundantly clear through Matthew 12. Put positively, what we are meant to do is to store up good things in our hearts, rather than evil (12:35). We are to speak things that come from Jesus, rather than from Satan (12:34, 36-37). Just like the people of Jonah’s day, we’re to listen to preaching that come for Jesus, and we’re to do something with it. We’re to repent. We’re to start changing the house around, to suit the new occupant of the house - Jesus. As we come across situations that we don't know what to do, we’re to be like the Queen of the South who came running to King Solomon for his wisdom, though in our case we’re to come to running to Jesus and His Word. And of course we’re not just to be hearers of the Word, but doers. We’re to have our house filled with the overcomer of evil - Jesus!
What might it look like to fill our house today with Jesus?
In a nice Father’s Day vignette at the end of Matthew 12 Jesus has his mother and brothers standing at the edge of the crowd asking to speak with Jesus. (By the time Jesus public ministry starts, his father has sadly passed away.) Jesus response shows how we continue to fill our house with the one who has overcome evil:
'“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”' Matthew 12:48-50
Our job is to do the will of our Father in heaven. Jesus shows us that as we get to know our heavenly Father and His amazing love, then His will becomes more important to us than even the desires of our own family.
We live in challenging times. But if our commitment is to have our house filled with Jesus and His words and His wisdom and ultimately to do His Father’s will, then we will know the way forward in each and every circumstance. Our job is to continue in repentance when we get it wrong. To speak Jesus words of grace and truth. And to act ourselves, in a way that is in line with the Father’s Will. I take it that the details of what we do in the different situations we face will flow fairly seamlessly from there.
Is there something Jesus is calling you to repent of today? Is there a situation where you need to ask for His wisdom? What would it look like to do the will of Heavenly Father in the challenge you are presently facing?
About the Author
Jai Wright is a Christian Minister, who founded and leads MAKE Church in Mackay, Qld. He recently published the book, Life Plugged In: Connecting with the Source of Peace, Power and Purpose.
You might like to think a little bit more about your spiritual health, by taking the Spiritual Health Check Score Card here.