Summary: Description of a Christian father
Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Video Clip—“The Perfects” from SERMON SPICE
(This video, filmed in black and white, is an over the top parody of an atypical family named the “Perfects” who are perfect in every way. It is set on a Sunday morning and shows how they treat each other with over emotive love and courtesy eating breakfast, riding in the car and getting to church 20 minutes early. They also park their car a distance from the church and “think happy thoughts” to get a mud stain out of the little girls dress. She proclaims her father, “the wisest man I know.”)
I want to ask each of you to pull out your NIV, New KJV and New RSV Bibles in case I read from each of them this morning.
The video we have just seen is over the top! It demonstrates what we sometimes think everyone else’s life is like and what is the expectation of a Christian family.
The Bible has hundreds of references to Christian parenting and numerous examples of fathers, good and bad, that can give us insight to the heart and intention of God’s precepts for parenting. But it is impossible to ignore the admonition of Jesus when He says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Let’s look at Matthew 5:48 to gain a firm understanding of what Jesus meant.
Jesus is in the midst of His great teaching we call the “Sermon on the Mount”. The entire sermon focuses on one basic theme: holy intention leading to holy action. In this context Jesus admonishes His listeners not to flawless living but rather to seek to have the heart and mind of God that will impact attitudes and actions. Earlier in His message He stated, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (5:8). The Apostle Paul reinforced this train of thought when he wrote in Philippians, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. PHP 3:15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Jesus’ command to be perfect intends to guide the hearer into seeking the completeness found in the way of God until the day they die. This side of heaven we will not possess the flawless character of a flawless God but we can incrementally possess more of His character as our intentions are set upon Him and guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Ninety per cent of dads say becoming a father made them want to be a better person and role model for their kids, and 75% feel a weight of responsibility now that they didn’t before. Two-thirds say they’re less judgmental of other dads, and 42% say they live with constant worry about their kids’ safety. Asked which of four challenges most concerns them, they chose: steering kids clear of alcohol and drugs (38%); protecting kids from sex and violence in media (28%); and supporting a family in a bad economy (28%). Losing the title of family breadwinner hardly even scored (6%). -- FAMILY CIRCLE, June 10, 2003, p. 83.
So what does a “perfect” Christian father look like? Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12,
11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
The Christian father concentrates on three things:
1. Encourages (Genesis 37:1-4)
a. Jacob encouraged his son Joseph but in his inequity towards the others he alienated his other sons from himself and Joseph from his brothers. Ephesians 6:4 states, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
b. Encouragement must be given to each child in the way that is significant to that child.
• In southern Africa, The Bebemba tribe has a fascinating procedure for combating feelings of rejection. Each person in the tribe who acts irresponsibly or unjustly is taken alone to the center of the village. Everyone in the village stops work and gathers in a large circle around the accused. In turn, each person in the tribe--regardless of age--speaks to the individual, recounting aloud the good things he has done in his lifetime. All the positive incidents in the person’s life, plus his good attributes, strengths, and kindnesses, are recalled with accurate detail. Not one word about his irresponsible or antisocial behavior is shared.