How to be a Spiritual Father (or Mother)
- Wednesday, June 13, 2012
The Pacific is a vast, unfathomable place. Neither of them “knows” anything about the Pacific. For them to start arguing over who knows it best is ridiculous! They are both ignorant as to the depths and secrets of the ocean.
In the same way, God is higher, greater, and infinitely more complex than any human mind can comprehend.
A nearby pastor discovered that some in his congregation were coming to our church for our Sunday night worship service. He asked them not to go because he was afraid that we would confuse them. His church placed a lot more emphasis on utilizing the spiritual gift of tongues than we did.
One morning, I met him walking to his car after dropping off his daughter at our Christian school. We began to discuss his recent edict. Finally, I said, “You know, one day we may both be on trial for following Jesus and standing before a firing squad. Neither one of us will care about who speaks in tongues and who doesn’t.”
We are now close friends.
How many times have we seen spiritual children argue over their limited experiences with God? Spiritual mothers and fathers seldom join in the fray.
Spiritual Mothers and Fathers Empathize with Christ in His Pains
In Philippians 3:10, Paul wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings.” I want to talk with you about the holiness of entering into Christ’s sufferings.
In the opening verses of John 9, Jesus was filled with compassion at the sight of a man who was born blind. The disciples, on the other hand, only seemed interested in figuring out whose sin brought on this affliction. The disciples were seeking to judge. Christ was seeking to love and heal the hurting man. As we become more intimate with Christ we mature beyond asking, “Who sinned?” Instead, like Jesus, we develop deep compassion for those who are broken by sin.
The trembling man shaking hands with me after church was hiding something. He asked for an appointment, and I agreed to meet with him. Later that afternoon, we shook hands again, and I noticed how wet and sweaty his palms were. He soon revealed that the AIDS virus was coursing through his body. Immediately, I stopped thinking about him. All I could think about was my hand. These were the early days of the AIDS epidemic. The medical community was still sorting out how the virus was transmitted. Sex could do it; that was already proven. How about kissing? Or sweat? Those two avenues were still under investigation.
I was strangely unmoved as he poured out his heart, confessing his illicit sexual lifestyle, wondering if God could ever forgive him and bring healing to his body. All I could think about was getting to the restroom to wash his sweat off of my hand. I held my fingers stiffly apart, not wanting to risk pressing any of his sweat into my skin.
I perfunctorily said the things a pastor is supposed to say as I planned to end the session as quickly as possible and avoid shaking his hand again. The instant he left, I ran to the sink. I am not proud of my behavior. I had little or no compassion for him. All I wanted to do was wash my hands.
Several years later I was thinking about Jesus. I wondered how He was feeling about the HIV-positive man and how I’d treated Him. I got to thinking about Philippians 3:10 and the “fellowship of sharing in Christ’s sufferings.”
It dawned on me that the sufferings of Jesus didn’t end at the Cross. He is still grieving today for those who are hurt and in pain. For one of the few times in life I found myself hurting for Jesus because of His pain. So, I told him, “I am so sorry that you were hurting that day. It must have broken your heart to see the pain and anxiety and fear in the heart of that man with HIV. And, I am sorry that I didn’t join with You in the fellowship of your sufferings."
Recently on Ask Roger
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content