Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Teachers & Fathers

For though you have countless guides (guardians, tutors, teachers, instructors) in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you then, be imitators of me. - 1 Cor 4:15-16

Did you ever get something stuck in your teeth? Of course you have. Let's say it's a piece of popcorn and there is no floss to be found. What do you do? You play with it. You tongue it absent-mindedly. You try to dig it out with your fingernail when no one is around. It keeps bugging you and bugging you. That's what this verse has done to me the last two days.

There are a lot of people who would love to be your teacher in Christ. Turn on the TV or the radio or the newspaper, go to the bookstore. There are a ton of teachers out there. Heck, I'll try to be your teacher.

Everybody has an opinion, everybody has a view, everybody has an understanding. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are intriguing. Some are disgusting. Some make you want more. Some make you want to run away. Some make you think. Some make you feel. Some are right. Some are wrong. Some are milk. Some are meat. Some are attractive. Some are destructive. Some help you. Some hurt you.

None of them can fully satisfy what we really need.

There are so many teachers, because teaching is easy. Observe, interpret and deliver. In a nutshell, that's what teaching is. Observation of the scriptures or the world plus some thoughtful interpretation of how those different parts interact with one another and with the audience, coupled with a memorable, thought or emotion evoking delivery is teaching.

That's something anyone can do. That is something everyone should do. It isn't something we should depend on others for.

I don't have a spiritual father. I've had a ton of spiritual teachers. I've had some spiritual leaders. I think I had a spiritual uncle once. I've had some spiritual temporary-custody situations. I may have had a spiritual step-dad or two. But, I've never had a spiritual father.

This is part of the popcorn-in-the-teeth situation. I've been going over what that means. I've never had a spiritual father. What does that mean? Am I a runaway? Were there potential fathers out there that I ran away from? Am I unlovable? Were there people who tried that just couldn't handle it (couldn't handle me)? Was it a situational thing? Did I just come from the wrong place, where people didn't deal with this wishy-washy feelings junk? How am I supposed to be a spiritual father if I've never had one?

I might not have a spiritual father, but I have a fantastic dad. I've got the kind of dad who supported me in everything I did. I've got the kind of dad who sacrificed for me. I've got the kind of dad who let me try and fail. I've got the kind of dad who coached a team for half a little league season without his son on the team so I could get called up to the majors. I've got the kind of dad who taught me the hard lessons. I've got the kind of dad who cried the first time I flew away from home alone. I've got the kind of dad who still calls to see how I'm doing. I've got the kind of dad who gets excited about what's going on in my life. I've got the kind of dad who asks me for advice. I've got the kind of dad who taught me what it means to be a man. I've got the kind of dad who loves my mom. I've got the ind of dad who loves me and lets me know. I've got the kind of dad that all of you should be jealous of.

That's that kind of spiritual father we all need. We all need someone who will dedicate themselves to us, who will make their life about helping us to live as spiritual fathers too. Jesus called them disciples fishing for men. He called them shepherds feeding his lambs. It's all the same, it is people loving other people more than themselves.

That's the kind of spiritual father I've been called to be.
There are plenty of teachers out there. Teaching is easy.
Teachers say, "Be good." "Be brave." "Be honest." "Be free." "Be encouraged."
Fathers say, "Be like me as I follow Christ."
That's hard.

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