Teachers and Fathers
(John 1:12-13, 1 John 2:12-14, 1 Cor. 4:14-21)
After the revelation on Patmos, John more clearly expressed many aspects of our spiritual lives. I have come to deeply appreciate how he describes our growth. In John 1, we read that as we receive Him, Christ, we have the potential to become born-ones of God. I used to think our reception of Him is the fact of a new birth. Whoops! I hear my analytical side getting in the way. Scratch that last sentence. Receiving Him is all important and spiritual life begins. Like it happens with a seed hidden beneath the surface, a shoot, a sprout, erupts. It is not by a formula we can analyze. It is according to a working of His Spirit and the process begins. He makes all things new. Everyday. We cannot make any of it happen. It is our part to be workable, malleable, good lumps of clay. Let Him work you into shape. Then we are fit to cooperate with Him. Receiving Him is the start and provides the ability to grow.
John continues to speak to us about growth in his first letter. There, he refers to believers as children, young men, and fathers. When we see a repetition in the words we read in the Bible, we should pay close attention. We will simply because of that repetition itself. John addresses each season of growth twice. He leaves no one out. See how he refers to the little children and fathers both as knowing God. The difference is that fathers have a greater sense of the eternal. Are we knowing Him who was from the beginning? Moses was 80 years old when he met the One who called Himself I AM. Our eternal destiny is the main thing. That is what the Lord has in mind. A vast family of sons who are full grown. They know the patience of God and lack nothing.
A father gives life. He imparts a seed that causes conception. As we mature, we impart spiritual life to people. Paul echoes that thought to the Corinthians. He had a fatherly care for them. His words to them were firm but not harsh. They were an immature bunch. He warned them he might have to be severe if they did not listen and respond. He carefully addressed the issue of marriage with them recognizing their humanity. We can have many teachers but we need true fathers. Firm but gentle. It can be our greatest challenge. And it is the transforming work of the Lord by His Spirit. Christ in us meets every challenge and His life overcomes. The faith of the Son of God becoming our faith. This is the way to overcoming.
The young men overcome the evil one. The truth is that we have an enemy that is a person, a spiritual being. He stirs up thoughts, uses other people, and wants to harm us. We may find he has ground in us but the Lord is our freedom fighter. His way is grace and the cross where He destroyed the fear of even death. John writes that we turn from loving this world. Jesus told us not to love our lives. The young men are those who have eaten the Lord’s words and digested them. The word of God has a home in them. So they have overcome the evil one. If he comes, they have the means to resist him and he will leave. He goes to look for others to trouble. We begin as children. We may see that some grow very quickly, seemingly much faster than others. Growth is expected, it simply happens. A child needs care, nourishment and the experiences of discovering and using its body. First is the natural, then the spiritual. Now we read in Rev. 12:3 that a child is born mature. We understand this woman who gives birth is the church, the bride, the wife of the Lamb. It indicates a working of God’s Spirit that gives birth to a nation of priests for God in a day. While our response is to look for something to yet happen, may we see that we are members of that bride, so close in spirit to Christ that our lives of intercession bear such ones to the Lord. While we may not have this experience we can grow into it. It is part of the process. Jesus’ words are spirit and they are life. He will put His words in our mouths and we will impart life to others. Stay rooted and grounded in Him and growth is certain.