God gives us spiritual parents.
One of the things that I love about God is how incredibly practical He is. Even though He is willing to give us Himself as a father, he knows that we were designed to live in relationship with other beings with skin. God stoops down to our level, changes us with His fathering heart, and even goes one step farther: He sends spiritual parents in our lives.
A spiritual parent is a human being who knows Christ as their Lord and is tasked with bringing you as an individual into your full sonship in God. Paul said to the Corinthians that though they had many teachers in Christ, they had one father—himself (1 Corinthians 4:15). He had become a father to the whole Corinthian church through being the first to bring the Gospel to Corinth. Paul had a special relationship because of that act that always gave him permission to speak into their messy situations. In an ideal setting, the person who led you to Jesus should be one of your primary spiritual parents. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
When a person comes to Christ, if the person that lead them to Jesus is either absent or non-existent (meaning the person came to know Jesus by simply reading the Bible, finding a tract, etc.) then a spiritual adoption must occur. When this happens, spiritually mature, well-fathered believers can and should reach out to new believers and assume the fathering role in their Christian walk. While this is not the best scenario for spiritual parenting, it will work in a pinch.
The goal of these spiritual parents is to raise these spiritual sons and daughters into their new Kingdom identity. The spiritual parent is tasked with loving with the Father’s love and being a physical representative of the Heavenly Father in the new believer’s life. Spiritual parents also will become channels of wisdom passed down from other believers (2 Timothy 2:1-2). They will also bring discipline and correction to those areas that are in need of it. Most who think they are spiritual parents believe it is done primarily through teaching. In reality, sonship is taught through life lived together, love shared, and wisdom passed on in life as situations arise. Spiritual parents are constantly “re-presenting” God as Father, so that the lies we naturally believe about God are dispelled.
It’s through this process of mirroring God the Father, teaching new sons how to experience sonship, and being a tangible fathering force that these spiritual parents reproduce spiritual sons. In the end the sons and daughters they raise will raise spiritual children of their own, because they’ve been well fathered. This process, continued for many generations of disciples, would pass on and expand the circle of family and sonship that God designed to rest on all of humanity.
God raises sons and daughters through natural parents, Himself, and spiritual parents. And now that we understand how God raises His children, we have to turn our attention to combatting the orphan mentality in us and in others. We’ll begin looking at that next week….
[Editor’s note: It is my full intent to finish chronicling and posting my Thirty Days to Greater Fruitfulness Posts. They will be coming shortly. This post is an exercise in returning to blogging.]
Monday I had an encounter with one of my 50,000 coaches. Today my coach was Steve Russell. If you’ve ever lived in Cedar Rapids and been a believer over the last 10 or 15 years, you’ve probably been impacted by Steve one way or another. I first met Steve in the late 90’s when he was helping me get up the courage to start my first cell group. While I don’t know Steve well, ever since that first day we met, I’ve always known he’s been for me and more importantly for the Kingdom.
So Monday, when he was standing in my front yard, it was no surprise that he was encouraging me. What surprised me was the content of the conversation.
I was telling Steve a little bit about what was going on with our house church. The conversation turned to what he was doing. Steve has been in transition for a couple of years now. But he looked at me with his patent Steve Russell smile and said, “You guys are doing what I always wanted to do when I grew up.” I quickly replied telling him that was funny because I thought he was doing what I wanted to do when I grow up. And then Steve said something profound. “”It’s amazing what a you can see from an arm’s length away, isn’t it?”
That statement stuck with me and it’s both an encouragement to me where I’m at and a challenge to you where you are. I need to be able to see what I can’t because I’m too close. I need to be able to look at my life sometimes “from an arm’s length away.” What about your life and the work of God in it are you not rejoicing in because you’re too close? What does God, the angels, and everyone else around you celebrate, but you look on with despair? Not everything is done, nor will it be until Christ returns. But can you get outside of yourself and see the work of the Spirit in your own life? And can you alert others to what God is doing in theirs? Maybe you can be one of someone else’s 50,000 coaches today.