This week in Hope Church I spoke one of the weightiest messages I have given in a long time. It was about how God’s method of establishing His Kingdom on the earth is through raising up Spiritual Fathers. And that the key to inheriting the blessing that these people carry is to keep an honouring attitude toward them. This is the key for one generation inheriting all the blessing of the previous one for free!
However, if you have been a Christian for more than 5 minutes, you have probably seen or experienced personally abuses or failures in Church life and leadership. By this I mean the kind of demand for ‘submission’ that can come from leaders who see themselves as God’s appointed ones, as well as the rebellious and schismatic attitudes that can rise up in God’s people that then rocks the progress and stability of Church life. Church life can be full of manipulation both the obvious and subtle type.
Believing Fathers and particularly apostolic fathers, are key to the progress of the church is not new to these shores. And in the 80’s there was a great renewed emphasis on leadership, apostles and leader’s authority, but with few exceptions it didn’t deliver on the promise that it held out for the body of Christ. What’s different now?
I believe God has been pouring out revelation about His Father heart and our sonship for some years now. The essential ingredient of Spiritual Fathers is that they walk themselves in a true ‘spirit of sonship’ and not in a ‘spirit of fear’. Too many who have risen to places of authority have done so whilst still carrying deep insecurities of their own, untouched by the love of God. Also the pressures of significance and profile violently test any man much more than anonymity does. We all can become protective and defensive. Wanting to preserve the blessing, protect the purity of what God has shown us and advance the gospel, all for Him.
In our experience as a church we went through a period of great trial, where everything became an unpleasant surprise for a period of about 9 months. Hidden sin; all kinds of stuff, you don’t want to know. The outcome was we lived in a spirit of fear, anxious about any new disaster that might befall us. But something deep has changed, and I think it reflects what God has been doing wider in His church. He is securing us in sonship. Orphans live in fear of lack and feeling vulnerable.
Much of our Christian leadership conversation has belied an orphan approach to church leadership. We are concerned with numbers, strategy, plans and money-or lack thereof. It’s about making the most of what we have until another delivery comes from heaven, and we aren’t sure when that is. Sons know heaven is open and everyday is delivery day.
God is about raising up spiritual fathers in our day who are trustworthy conduits of promise and blessing from heaven because they are healed up sons of God in their own right. They know ‘the hungry always get fed’ and that living in the Father’s house is not about service and obedience as the top priorities, but living in the Father’s presence and pleasure. The abused will no longer turn abuser (in authority terms) because the Holy Spirit is turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers. Soon it will look like family, not war, or business or education and training. The world will notice the family of God living under the blessing of heaven.