In recent weeks I have been praying consistently about the dreadful situation of fatherlessness permeating the spiritual atmosphere of Church and nation. (“Fathering” encompasses male and female.)
This issue confronts me regularly in ways like the following.
Encountering men who never seem to pray “Father”, visiting pastors who with grief remark that their senior denominational leaders never visit to show care as a father should, in listening to an Evangelical minister remark that churches have shut up Jesus in the gospel and separated him from his Father.
Surprisingly, in our Friday prayer time the Lord began to speak about these issues in a radical and sorrowful way.
In a time of crisis for Israel, “the LORD…could bear Israel’s misery no longer.” (Judges 10:16).
He was not impatient with his people, but impatient for them.
This is the God of whom it says, “In all their (Israel’s) affliction he was afflicted…” (Isa 63:9).
The same ethos is found in the New Testament. Speaking as a true spiritual father Paul says, “when I could bear it no longer I sent to learn about your faith…” (1 Thess 3:1, 5).
True spiritual fathering reveals itself in empathetic pain that cannot be passive about the afflictions of its children. Fatherhood is always moved to act and deliver.
Today the God and Father of Jesus aches unbearably to deliver his people, but scripture testifies to why this is not manifest; “they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit….Father to the fatherless…God sets the lonely in families. But he makes the rebellious live in a parched land.” (Isa 63:10).
God s a true Father, but for our rebellions we have been set in a spiritual desert. Deep down we are part of a people that is not merely angry with “God” but angry with God-as-a-Father. To the unspiritual this accusation sounds silly, but Christ’s words expose everything (1 Cor 2:14).
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, the Spirit of truth, to be with your forever…. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).
The beauty of this promise is richly communicated through the life of any true spiritual father. “since we were torn away from you brothers (Greek: ‘orphaned’), for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavoured the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face” (1 Thess 2:17). With a father like this the Thessalonians were not overcome by any “orphan” spirit. But rare is the Church today whose bonds of love are this close.
After several years The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse continues to interrogate the churches about their past history.
This is a prophetic sign not only of the pervasive nature of institutional abuse through the churches but that institutionalisation is abuse. Institutions are father-substitutes.
But in this world there is no such thing as a “father-substitute”.
If human beings gravitate to institutions because they provide a substitute for a family, church-as-institution is a substitute for spiritual family as God intended. This means that your local church is likely to be a spiritual orphanage.
Our nation has thousands of orphanages where God is not consulted, people rely on their own wisdom, they turn to motivational speakers, know nothing of godly discipline and so on (Heb 12:5-11).
The power of the institution as Father-substitute is so great that without a heavenly revelation of Fatherhood there can be no “breakout”. How did we get into this situation?
Satan is “the father of lies” and the root deception he sowed into the human heart “from the beginning” is that Creator-fatherhood is fatherhood without wrath (John 8:44). This is the great idol which entered the human heart in Eden and it has been nourished and cherished ever since (Rom Acts 17:29; Rom 1:22-23).
Common Christianity perpetuates this delusion that Fatherhood has nothing to punishment because almost no contemporary preacher speaks of God as Father and Judge with equal passion as one who cannot bear to see humanity orphaned (1 Pet 1:17).
We have lost insight into such things because we have turned away from discerning the cross.
Few contemplate that the ultimate orphaning in the universe was carried out in the power of the Spirit of God.
The parched place of the cross is Jesus’ death as in our place as rebel for whom God is no Father, ““why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34; John 19:28). Since “in Christ God was reconciling us to himself” we know that in Christ there is no angry Father (2 Cor 5:19).
If this is the substance of the gospel we all say we profess why is the Church so bound by an orphan spirit?
There is an answer to this and it is terrible. “Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also” but “the antichrist…denies the Father-and-the-Son.” (1 John 2:22-23).
The spirit of antichrist seduced Eve and Adam into living as independent “stand alone” humans who renounced their sonship claiming they needed no Creator-Father. In the same way Satan subtly infiltrates the Church to present an image of a “stand alone Jesus”.
This Christ may still save, heal and deliver but he is not worshipped because he is the Son who alone leads to the Father (John 14:6). Our churches are orphanages because they worship an orphan Jesus!! We have achieved this by grieving the Spirit who unifies Father and Son; only this can explain why many say “Jesus” but never utter “Abba! Father!” (Rom 8:14-16).
The world is full people who are angry at God because he seems to do nothing.
They are also angry at the Church because it images a “Father” too spineless to judge its own Reverend Fathers who have practiced child abuse, and many other sins.
To outsiders it seems like the little children have been punished in the place of the “men of God”.
Sadly, these denunciations have substance.
Whilst I cannot recall meeting anyone openly angry at the crucified Christ, at the heart level to treat the Son as if he had no Father must be an expression of such anger.
This is something that Father and Son find unbearable and to which they cannot be passive. The Spirit is surely planning a climactic revival.
Over the centuries the truths of justification, holiness, spiritual gifts etc. have been renewed; today we need a revival of the revelation of the Father, “from whom are all things and for whom we exist” (1 Cor 8:6).
Just how might this happen?
It is the exalted Jesus who testifies of the intimacy he shares with us, “go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”” (John 20:17 cf. Matt 28:10).
Father, Son and Spirit ache to reveal so as to free us of the orphaned state which is a judgement on our rebellious humanity.
What can we do?
Carrying on with Church as we know it will change nothing.
We must begin with confessing the truth; we are living as orphans in an orphanage under the power of an orphan spirit.
We must not seek a revelation from God, but humbly acknowledge that he himself is the revelation we need.
By God’s grace he will bear our misery no longer and visit us from on high with his Spirit of adoption crying, “Abba! Father!” (Rom 8:16).
MESSAGE DELIVERED: 28.8.16
Author: Dr. John Yates