I had not planned on this post. But there were enough requests to get me thinking. Some were encouraged by the Mother’s Day Post so much they wanted one for themselves. But I just wasn’t sure. The Mother’s Day Sermon post is my most popular post. It went all over the world and was used in pulpits everywhere. I didn’t want to do one for Fathers that was unpopular. Or worse, was seen as trying to capitalize. And to be honest doing one for Fathers felt self-serving.
And then it turned out to be so.
For whenever I lacked imagination, I just inserted myself in, and voila. I’ve been doing this whole preaching-the-good-news-to-myself thing for so many years – as my pastor asked me to so long ago – that I figured I might as well do so here.
Further, as I thought about this, an irony struck me. It is less acceptable to feel condemned for men than for women. (I could be wrong about that, sure. But I’m gonna err on the side of being right here.) It reveals weakness. And weakness is social kryptonite for men.
Then you must add this overlooked reality – failure has a weight, a weight with all the pressure of a culture which pushes relentlessly against the soul of a man. The net effect of wanting to be Superman as a boy is not just dusty comics in moldy cardboard boxes pushed into the corner of attics. There is also the failure to become one. Whether unconscious or not, the reality is Fathers want to be super and seen as being so, if only by those citizens, plucked up out of harms way, residing within his own home. But deep down, the weakness is known to be there, like a scar needing to be covered up.
Fathers are more likely to brag on the scar than confess their displeasure with it.
I’ve no wish to create a movement of weepy men, though Jesus did weep over a friend. And I’ve no wish to guilt Fathers into being more in tune with their weakness. To share it, even. Mainly because the guilt is already there, residing. It’s feet are propped up on the coffee-table and it knows where the silverware is in the drawer.
I’m calling it. The guilt is real and it’s there whether I say anything about it or not. It gnaws like mice and slithers through veins like an asp. It feels like poison. It feels as if it’s thieving life from under your very nose. And sometimes the taking of a deep breath is as the death rattle.
And when the dust settles and the echo ceases to bounce around inside your skull and the night is still, more than anything the Christian Father is faced with the specter of condemnation. An accusing finger rises up and points at his heart and says “condemned” for one thousand failures. Or worse, one in particular.
So Fathers need to also hear the message that in their God-given calling, they are not condemned.
The following is not the only sermon that could be preached for Fathers. But it’s one.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Thesis: Fathers, if you are in Christ Jesus, you ought to have no fear of condemnation because of your standing of righteousness because of Christ’s work on your behalf on the cross.
Fathers, even though you may feel you are…
You are not condemned because you cannot take your family on a dream vacation. Or on any vacation at all.
You are not condemned by the sins in your past which haunt like unsatisfied ghosts.
You are not condemned by your need for rest.
You are not condemned by your inability to fix all the broken things.
You are not condemned by your lack of promotions.
You are not condemned by your child’s lack of abilities in comparison to others.
You are not condemned by the obscurity of your job.
You are not condemned by the check engine light.
You are not condemned by a dwindling savings account.
You are not condemned because you are divorced.
You are not condemned by your son’s lack of interest in what interests you.
You are not condemned by a lack of desire to play with the kids after work.
You are not condemned by your failures as a father, that repeat themselves like the days, themselves.
You are not condemned by your wayward daughter.
You are not condemned by being fired or laid off.
You are not condemned if you find it difficult to talk to your children.
You are not condemned by not being able to afford to throw the birthday party of the year for your kids.
You are not condemned by the size and state of your home.
You are not condemned by your introverted personality.
You are not condemned for not living up to the standards of your Father or Father-in-law.
You are not condemned by the debts hanging over you like death itself.
Fathers, even though you may feel condemned, if you are in Christ, you are not condemned. This is the real reality.
You are not condemned, because if you are in Christ, your identity…your righteousness is Christ alone. Therefore, enjoy the unending love and affection and acceptance of being a son perfectly loved with an unwavering love that flows from your Father in Heaven.
And to all those who are not Fathers…do nothing to diminish this reality. Nothing.