Fathering, Apostles, Maturity an all that…

UnknownI was an avid fan, probably still am of the radio series that caught people’s imagination back in 1978, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy it was a crazy science fiction comedy radio series written by Douglas Adams.   It followed the adventures of hapless Englishman Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, who happens to be an alien writing for ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘, a pan-galactic encyclopaedia and travel guide.    The exploits of Arthur begin with the Earth being destroyed only to find themselves aboard a stolen spaceship piloted by a motley crew including Zaphod Beeblebrox a depressed robot Marvin, and Trillian, the only other human survivor of Earth’s destruction.  

During Arthur’s travels he encounters many strange aliens and tongues, to enable him to understand he has a fish called a Babel Fish that enables translation it is a fictitious alien fish that performs instant translations.   I don’t 

know about you but I think life would be a lot easier if we all could insert a babel fish in our ear to understand what’s being communicated.

 I find myself in need of a babel fish quite often, common words that we all adopt and use frequently only to fall into problems when we realise we didn’t understand what was being said. Although we quote back the sentence we are told “I didn’t mean that”. O for a babel fish!

Words that I thought I understood, I discovered I don’t, and they are not complicated words. I don’t know if it’s assumptions we make or just we need to explain. I have found that there is a continual need for vocabulary upgrades, and understanding upgrades, vocabulary is our ongoing challenge in life. Oh Lord for a Babel Fish 

imagesI was part of a conversation recently with the question being asking around various networks, what is an apostle?  I seem to hear quite this regularly, I have come to the conclusion it really is asking what is the function of the apostle and what is the authority of the apostle.  The question is quickly followed by the following statement,  “I would rather use the word father to the house, fathering…’.   O for a Babel Fish…

Fathering, parenting a people, a church…what does that mean, how can it work out.  For some people I’m sure it is an alien language, and for others it is understood and in use.  Each of the words used have significance in different ways for so many people. It would be a lot easier to have the most honest thing in the universe sticking out of our ears so that we could understand each other’s perception and the vocabulary in use.

I will address the issue of being a spiritual parent to individuals or to churches this has an interesting outworking.     We are to enable people to come to maturity who ever we are, every believer providing and encouraging people to maturity to the fullness of Christ. That is, every Christ follower is to be helped to meet their own needs and the needs of others, not to make us needy but certain to help every one mature and be the supplier for their neighbour, brother and sister.   

Your example of living for Christ will set the scene, aim for every  one you  touch becomes Christ like in maturity.   Maturity, a journey that takes the challenges of each day, what ever they may be, taking the strain and breaking through in maturity.  Good care, fathering, apostleship, discipling will  cost you much in time and care through prayer.

I watch my three children now grown and watch my 2 grandchildren, presently growing it is amazing to see them grow in the details of life to carry life in its fullness for them then for others.

I noted that all five children and grandchildren have the same basic needs however the realisation that is necessary, in each is also unique.   All require personal, individual attention, this growing people up,  also reflects through to spiritual parenting and apostleship to people communities, the church.  Each community is unique and cannot be helped and encouraged without relationship, not networks, or organisations but knowing relationship in each others lives.

Each person and community, church have basic needs that are the same but each one also has specific distinct ways.   Herein is a challenge to relationship, disciples are hand-tooled not mass-produced (Sam Shoemaker).   An organisation cannot turn out leaders and people cannot church people as a supply chain it is the hand -tooled of relationship.

God involves in our lives, onwardly he continues with us until it is competed we are hand tooled (Phil 1:6), the call of Eph 4:11 is to be in constant relational process preparing people for life – works of service.   

While recently reading Genesis 1 I looked at the flow of the poetry in the verses and realised it was not just a catalogue of world, atmosphere, plants, seas and animals being created. I really was a chapter of relationship, God outlining the relationship between the unseen and the seen, plants and animals, humanity and creation, sun stars and moon, a chapter of relationship. Communicating to us that you cannot do anything in isolation. It is said that it takes a village to grow a child every friend, every neighbour, every instructor all adding to the maturity. It’s the same when we look at the Community Church it is every gift, every ministry, each one supplying.

In spiritual maturity for the body every church needs help and stimulation from many others. All that is happening when there is the background of parenting, fathering, mothering, ‘apostling’ to the church.

In the midst of the necessity of many, Paul still reminded us of his personal care in 1 Corinthians 4-15  Paul was the spiritual father to gain the maturity in Christ, all laboured, expended energy in his relationship to bring about Christ in each community.

Discipling into maturity, fathering to fatherhood, my spiritual father Bryn Jones used to say you cannot father without being fathered. That opens up a big debate for many, you could add it takes a disciple to make disciples. Am I a disciple?   In order to disciple, have I been fathered so I could father? Not looking for perfection only but have these been extended to you and me.

Spiritual parenting, we are called to be an example (1 Cor 11:1) to the people the retoucher, strain a little harder to follow Christ more closely.   To anchor people in the truth, that is Christ, make Scripture alive, to keep people centred in Christ.    

Christ likeness does not mean the conformity to certain patterns of behaviour, does not mean memorising versus. These may be involved in the process but they are not the end. The real test of Christ likeness comes in the package of life, through the School of the spirit the stresses and strains of everyday life. This is where we are to mature. As background to this maturity it is true that we need a grasp of the promises of God. I don’t mean more money,  more comfort, more for me, but what is God after,  as a promise to all of creation, maturity needs to understand and believe the promises of the scriptures.

Our everyday experience since being moulded and conformed by these promises is much more the indicator of a disciple, a maturing follower of Christ.

As a spiritual parent, as a fathering gift, as an apostolic ministry it requires that you stay relationally through with people,  it is hard, it requires you to give your life to someone. It takes your time and your energy, whilst opening up yourself to close observation.

It is a great need for spiritual parenting within the community of God, true fathering gifts, true mothering gifts, I love that Paul said he mothered the churches and not only fathered, true apostolic, not those by title only, holding people together by dominating emotionally and financially, but those that who pour themselves out so that others may walk more Christ-like.

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