Parent Idolatry


God is a father. But when a child comes into the world, his first picture of a father comes not from heaven, but from earth. A child’s introduction to what a father is comes from his birth father. Even if the only thing the birth father did was give mom the sperm to fertilize the egg; a child’s definition of “father” starts with his earthly father.

When a man and a woman become parents, one of the main responsibilities they have as a child’s first and primary representation of what a parent is, is to point them to their heavenly Father. Every person is made in the image of God and therefore has a certain responsibility to rightly display that image. Parents have the unique responsibility and opportunity to image God to their children in a way that specifically shows what God is like as a parent.

God places parents in our lives to show us THE Father. They are a means, not an end: a sign pointing to a greater destination – not the destination itself. Because of this, every child is in danger of parent idolatry: trusting in our parents to give us what only God can give. When we idolize good parents, the result is a false security. When we idolize bad parents, the result is despair, anger, and a feeling of being ripped off.

The place in time we now find ourselves is one of brokenness in the family at epidemic proportions. Absent, derelict fathers, selfish mothers, the scourge of rampant divorce, the utter disregard for marriage, and the rise of homosexuality are distorting and blurring a child’s view of what his or her heavenly Father is like. Children are left with a gaping hole and an insatiable hunger for their Father, that they don’t know how to fill.

There’s a “father hunger” in every person that cannot ultimately be found in a man or a woman, a mom or a dad. It’s found in Christ, who through faith in him, restores you to your Father in heaven, healing the wounds from your father and mother on earth. This is good news. This is really good news. Because as long as what you’re looking for is in a man (father or father figure), a woman (mom, wife, girlfriend, porn, mistress), a group (family, church, men, women), or yourself (being a man or a woman, being holy, being successful, being knowledgeable, etc.), then you are trapped, stuck, bound, and always the victim – constantly at the whim of sinful men and women to give you what’s not there’s to give.

But if what you are looking for is in Christ who restores you to your heavenly Father, then you’re never the victim. In Christ, adopted by the Father, everything the Father has is yours (Luke 15:31). You’re no longer a hope sick wanderer frustrating all your relationships by pulling illegally from them what only your heavenly Father can give you.

In Christ you’re no longer a slave and you’re no longer an orphan. You’re a son, and a son of the King.

Whether you’ve had good parents or bad parents, whether you’ve been close or distant, loved or abused, accepted or abandoned, what you’re looking for is not and was never found in your parents. It’s found in your Father in heaven.

Come home to him.

“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.” (Ps 27:10)

(Image Credit: makelessnoise)

About Josh Christophersen

Josh is a software engineer, church planter, and blogger with a passion for helping people do their life well. He lives in KC with his wife and 7 kids.

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