Publication: One-to-One, Summer 2009
The last word in the Old Testament is “curse.” How sobering to think that what began with such promise “in the beginning,” had come to a place where man’s sin brought great strife-division between God and man, division between nations, and division within families. Mankind had squandered our perfect fellowship with Father God and in so doing, we lost the very basis we had for relating to one another.
When all seemed lost, God sent a promise and a warning:
“Behold, will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).
This promised Redeemer is, of course, Jesus Christ. He was Himself in perfect harmony with His Heavenly Father-so much so, in fact, that He said, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father” (see John 8 and John 14). He shows us the way to the Father, and shows us how earthly fathers and their children should relate. In fact, He not only shows us, but transforms our hearts and makes it possible.
In John 17, He prays an amazing prayer for all of us who follow Him:
“…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: “In them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:21-23).
The heart of any good father is that His children would love, honor, and stand with one another. Jesus so clearly reflected His own Father’s heart that He could pray this prayer for us. Our unity is very dear to the heart of God.
God ordained that His healing in the earth would be initiated and revealed by restoring the hearts of parents and children. First, He made a way for our relationship with Him as our Father to be restored. Then, He works through Jesus Christ to turn the hearts of fathers to children; as families are healed, communities become healthier, and the glory of God continues to radiate outward to the nations.
A FATHERLESS GENERATION
As I have often said, fatherlessness is the defining characteristic of our generation. President Barack Obama has spoken often of the effects of an absent father in his own life. Statistics and real – life examples show us that increasing numbers of children are growing up in homes without a father in their lives, or even a positive male role model. Apart from God’s grace, intervention, and provision, this leaves critical gaps in a child’s development and sense of security.
On Father’s Day 2008, then-Senator Obama said this:
Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it. But if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing-missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.
While I personally may find areas of disagreement with Mr. Obama on policy matters, I certainly agree with that message he expressed about fatherhood.
JESUS PRAYS FOR YOUR FAMILY
One thing that encourages and comforts me greatly is the knowledge that Jesus’ prayer that we may all be one includes healing for fathers and children. And He is still praying for us (see Romans 8 and Hebrews 7). Jesus is praying for our families, inasmuch as our families represent the most basic building block within His Church. It is not God’s purpose to transform the Church into a “spotless Bride” while ignoring the families who make up His Church.
Indeed, it is in the restoration of families- specifically, the turning of fathers’ hearts to children, and children’s hearts to fathers – that we find hope for the health of the Church. This is vital, because as Pastor Karl Strader once said, “A broken and divided Church offers no hope for a broken and divided world.”
Knowing His will and intent for us will make us more strategic in seeking to obey Him; to humble ourselves and do whatever we can to line up with His will. Sometimes, there are things that are beyond our ability or control. This is where His grace and power- and our willingness to wait on Him patiently-come in. I’ve heard my Dad say, “We cannot do what only God can do, and God will not do what He wants us to do.”
God desires to restore families-to be the bridge between fathers and children. No matter how you perceive your relationship with your children, we must all remember that it is Jesus Christ who makes the relationship possible. He is what holds us together, even when it sometimes looks like everything is falling apart (see Colossians 1).
We are also called to be agents of reconciliation out in the world, as ambassadors of Father God in a fatherless generation. Recently, I walked through a community in chaos, where murder, gangs, drugs, prostitution, and poverty stalk and destroy countless lives. Young children have been forced into prostitution to support the drug habits of their mothers. Their fathers are either in gangs, in jail, or in the grave. It is not enough for me to think that it’s “their children” or “their problem.” As an ambassador of the kingdom of God, I am to be an agent of reconciliation and a light in darkness …to have the heart of the Lord Who is Himself a “Father to the fatherless.”
All of this motivates me to pray more-more for my own daughter and our family; more for the healing in the body of Christ; and more for this lost, dying, and desperate generation. As we pray these things. We can know we are praying in perfect agreement with Father God. May we see His Kingdom revealed more fully in our generation!
Scripture Reference: Malachi 4:5-6; John 8; John 14; John 17:21-23; Romans 8; Hebrews 7; Colossians 1
STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.