1 John 2:13 (NKJV)
13 I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
What is it that separates the men from the boys? This was the question we began to answer last week. What are the lessons that the men in the congregation have to teach us as the people of God?
Last week I remarked on the stability that men provide for family, for church, and for society at large. Men are to be the source of ballast so that come what may – come trials, come hardship, come joy, come sorrow – men provide a clear sense of direction, identity, being.
Today I would like to expand upon this by noting the title that John uses to identify men – “fathers.” The men in the congregation are the “fathers” of the Church. And note that this is not a new designation for the men among God’s people. After all, throughout the Old Testament God was in the business of fulfilling the promises He made to whom? To the “fathers” – to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And it is on the basis of the covenants that God made with “the fathers” – the covenants with Abraham, with our fathers under Moses, and with David – that our Lord Jesus Christ took on human flesh for us. And so notice that throughout the many genealogical registers in Scripture – both Old Testament and New – the lists include successive generations of “fathers” who paved the way for the coming of Christ. While including special women here and there, the individuals that provide the sense of stability and continuity with the past are the men.
In other words, as important and indispensible as mothers are, it is through fathers that the history of Israel passed; it was to the fathers that God was faithful; and it is men whom God now calls “fathers” in the Church – fathers whom we are to respect and honor as the source of stability and strength for the Church.
So men have you reckoned with your high calling? Whether or not you are an earthly father, you are a father in Israel. God has called you to be a source of stability and strength in Israel and by means of you is going to pass the faith on to future generations who will look back and number you among “their fathers.” And so, as any good father, our obligation is to lead the way in devotion to the Lord and to His bride, the Church. We should be enthusiastic for worship, zealous for singing the psalms, eager to hear the Word of God, hungry to come to the Supper each week. But if your experience growing up was like mine then it was just the opposite. The women were the spiritual ones; the men abdicated. This ought not to be. We have an obligation to exemplify before the congregation what truly matters, what is worthy of all acceptance. We are to be examples to the flock, to so exemplify the love of Christ for His bride, the Church, that all God’s people be zealous for Her glory and growth to the praise of Christ Himself.
Others – including children, young men, young women, older women – have you shown the fathers in the faith due honor and respect? Our God calls us to “honor our father and our mother” and this includes respecting the men in the congregation generally by expecting of them all that God does. Remind them of God’s calling on them and be encouraged by them to pass the faith on to future generations.
Reminded that we have often despised our fathers in the faith, that we have considered their wisdom passé, that we have rejected their counsel in favor of our own, that we have scorned the gift God has given us in men, let us kneel and confess our sins to the Lord.