1 Peter 4:1-19 (Read)
What kind of people offer forgiveness to those who murder their family members?
What motivates people to even consider forgiveness towards their enemies?
Who has the influential power to cause this kind of response?
Do we have that kind of faith?
This week 21 year old Dylan Roof entered a Black African Methodist Episcopal Church and killed 9 people. Yesterday the families of the shooting victims had a chance to address the gunman. Do you know their message to him? “We forgive you. “ Their message to Dylan Roof was, “We will not let hatred win.”
What kind of people say things like that? What does it take to build that kind of character in a person’s heart?
Listen, we know the answer to these questions, don’t we? We follow a crucified Lord and Savior who willingly laid down His life on a cross for us, and as He died, He willingly prayed for the forgiveness of those who crucified Him. We follow a risen Lord and King who conquered death and sin and brought grace and forgiveness to all who receive Him, who believe on His name and submit to His authority.
Yet our hearts cry out for justice too, do the not? We can tend to want God’s mercy on ourselves but God’s justice on our enemies. Know what I mean? God calls us to an even higher place where we would also choose mercy for our enemies. Not so that they can practice their hatred toward us, but so that they can see God in us. When the Almighty God of all creation sacrificed His Son for us sinners, we witnessed an act of love for enemies that is more powerful than Satan, sin or Hell. Jesus Christ understands unjust treatment. He knows the destructive forces of evil first hand. Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God the Father, gave Himself up to the hands of those who crucified Him. He committed Himself to the Everlasting Father, who judges justly. In other words, there will be a day of reckoning. God the Father says, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” Therefore we can entrust ourselves to Him who judges justly as well. We can even stand with Stephen, the first martyr to die for Jesus Christ, who said as he was being stoned to death by a raging mob, “Father, do not hold this sin against them.”
Today is Father’s day. God our Father created man and woman in His own image and likeness and blessed us to be able to bring new life into this world and become fathers and mothers of children who will grow up and, by God’s grace, do the same. Fathers have the role of protector and provider as we lead our families. None of us would sit back and watch if our wives or children were being threatened physically, would we? It is one thing to practice self-defense as a Christian, but quite another to defend our family from harm. Jesus did not defend Himself, but He certainly defended the honor of His Father and protected His disciples.
None of us who are fathers would sit back and neglect providing for our families either, would we? As protector and provider, we have a responsibility to meet the needs of our families, do we not? Jesus speaking to His disciples said to a group of fathers, “Which of you having a son, if he asked for bread would give him a stone, or if he asked for a fish would give him a snake?” If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him?
This Father’s day, I want to issue a challenge to all of us Fathers. This is a challenge from the very heart of our Father in heaven. As protector and provider of your family be sure that you protect your wife and children from the greatest enemy of all. Be their spiritual protector and provider. Do not let them fall prey to the enemy who comes only to steal and kill and destroy their souls. You wouldn’t think of letting that happen physically and sit idly by, how much more ought you to take up the weapons of spiritual warfare and fight for them against the danger of eternal death!
Also, as providers, we fathers must not sit by and let our family starve spiritually. Lead your home in the way of Christ. Provide an example of prayer and sharing in the word of God. Break the bread of life in your homes. Open the Bible and share it together. Turn off the TV and open the book of life. Call your family together into a zone where electronic devices are not allowed and get in touch God together.
Dad’s, we are seeing a huge percent of our children walk away from faith when they leave home. Why is that so? Is the Church not “cool” enough? Or, do they do that because they were spiritually starved and unprotected while they were under our roof? Do you protect your children from the world’s message that pours into their minds from media and friends? Do your provide spiritual nourishment and exercise to build them up and strengthen them to be able to stand in this dangerous world? That takes more than church meetings to accomplish. God never told the church to bring up our children in the training and instruction of the Lord. That responsibility falls squarely on us as parents.
I wouldn’t doubt that Dylan Roof’s parents protected and provided for their son physically. He looks pretty healthy. But, did they teach him about God’s love? Did they bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Did he see them practicing the greatest commandments of love for God and love for neighbor? Did he hear his parents praying for him to grow up in faith and love as Christ would have him?
Perhaps if his heart had been protected by the teachings of Jesus Christ, “Love your enemy” and “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you” perhaps we would not have this horrible news story this week.
Perhaps if Dylan’s Dad had provided for him by being an example of Christ’s kindness and trained him to care for his neighbors and pray for his enemies he might have followed a path of peace.
So what are some things we can do, dads, to protect and provide for our children in a spiritual way?
Check out these questions from- Mission Possible: 5 Keys to Raising Faithful Kids, Dr. Gregory K. Popcak
1. Do your children experience your faith as the source of your warm, family relationships?
2. Is your children’s father taking the lead in faith formation practices and discussions?
3. Are you actively helping your children develop a personally meaningful prayer life?
4. Do you have positive, close relationships with other healthy, faithful families?
5. Do your kids have close relationships with faithful peers?