. . . Or why no
should grow up
CHRISTIAN, DOES THE TITLE OF THIS TRACT SEEM STRANGE TO YOU?
The word dysfunctional refers to something or someone that is maladjusted,
impaired, or abnormal. It is often used to describe someone raised in a less than
ideal family, where one (often the father) or both parents were missing, abusive, or
alcoholic. Such a person will often grow up as a maladjusted adult, unable to carry on
a normal, healthy relationship, or emotionally function in a "normal" manner.
Now, when referring to a Christian as "dysfunctional," one has to first define what
constitutes abnormal behavior. In the case of true Bible Christianity, "normal" is well
defined by God. There is definitely a standard that defines a "normal Christian," and
Jesus Christ's earthly life defined that standard.
Christ's "Christianity" was definitely not what you would call DYSFUNCTIONAL. But,
sadly, the same can't be said about many Christians today. We struggle with trying to
have a consistent prayer life; consistent devotions; loving God, and loving others the
way we should. We often struggle with faith, not being able to fully trust God as we
should. The list goes on and on.
Compared to Christ, or even the first century Christians, one could say
Christians today are DYSFUNCTIONAL to some degree or other.
As we've already noted, dysfunctionality is often tied with a less than ideal family life.
Particularly, to a bad father/child relationship. Can the same analogy be drawn in the
Christian life? If we were to enquire why Christ's life was so well balanced, having been,
"in all points tempted like as we are," would the answer be tied to the close relationship
He had with His Heavenly Father?
Likewise, is it a coincidence that we modern-day Christians, who struggle so much to
live the Christian life, don't, for the most part, instinctively view God as our Father? We
may start a prayer with "[H]eavenly Father" but deep in our hearts, do we really view
ourselves as His child? DO WE ACT ACCORDINGLY?
Christian, maybe you've been saved awhile and are trying to do your best to live
according to God's Word. Perhaps you've often come to church, heard a conviction-
laden sermon, and practically crawled to the altar, only to walk away without the victory
you sought. Maybe you feel something is missing and that your Christian life is
shallow, definitely dysfunctional by God's standard.
Now, before we go on, are you sure you're saved? Have you repented of your sins and
trusted Christ ALONE to save you? Do you have that quiet assurance that comes from
God? Can you honestly say, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we
are the children of God?" Rom. 8:16
If you are absolutely sure you're saved, then perhaps your struggles stem from a shallow
relationship with your Heavenly Father. Maybe you're dysfunctional because YOU DON'T
REALLY KNOW YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER.
The right Father/Child relationship is a lot more important than you think . . .
Now, lest you think we exaggerate the importance of a Father/Child relationship,
ask yourself this: Why do you think the devil is so bent on destroying the family?
More specifically, why are his attacks primarily aimed at destroying a child's
perception of his/her father. You may think he is mainly attacking moms through the
feminist movement, but don't be fooled--his real aim is the fathers!
It has always been from the start. (In the garden, the devil's real aim was Adam. He
just chose to do it through Eve, the weaker vessel, emotionally (1 Peter 3:7). Satan's
true goal with the feminist movement is to distort the image of father as primary
provider and protector. Even the unsaved world, with its humanistic psychology,
recognizes the importance of how a child views their father. Sigmund Freud, definitely
non-Christian, was quoted as saying, "I could not point to any need in childhood as
strong as that of a father's protection."
God has placed in all of us a special yearning toward fatherly protection. According to
Dr. Robert J. Ackerman, an unsaved professor of sociology at Indiana University of
Pennsylvania: "We all have UNWRITTEN EXPECTATlONS of what fathers are supposed
to do, how they are supposed to act, and how they are supposed to feel. We expect
fathers to MAKE RULES, PROVIDE economic support, TEACH US how to be men,
SHOW US HOW TO TREAT OTHER PEOPLE, BE THERE for our games, school plays, or
bands performances, COMFORT US when we don't do well, SHARE OUR LAUGHTER,
and above all, LOVE US. During our lives we knowingly or unknowingly compare our
fathers to these expectations."
Realizing that God, as Father, wants to fulfill our expectations forms the ideal basis for
a personal relationship with Him. God has chosen to assume a role that facilitates that
relationship. That's why it was part of Christ's intended mission to introduce God as
Father. He told His disciples in Mat. 23:9: "And call no man your father upon the earth:
FOR ONE IS YOUR FATHER, which is in heaven."
Establishing the Father/child relationship early in the Christian's life, no doubt,
provides a solid foundation for spiritual growth. Our entire Christian life, servitude and
all, is to operate within the framework of relating to God as FATHER, someone we can
naturally and instinctively gravitate toward.
This Father/child relationship should form the primary motivation for living the Christian
life. We shouldn't have to be "compelled" to serve God, when serving God means
pleasing our Father. Preachers shouldn't have to continuously strive with us, trying to
get us to pray, and read our Bibles, when doing so means getting to know our Father
better. It is this Father/child relationship that satisfies those yearnings, those
expectations that Dr. Ackerman's quote referred to.
Viewing God as Father and relating to Him as such, makes it much easier, "more
natural," for us to relate to God personally. It facilitates trust, which enables us to rest
in God's preservation, freeing us to die to self, and therefore, love others.
HOWEVER, this relationship is NOT one-sided. We know God wants to be our Father,
BUT DO WE IDENTIFY WITH BEING HIS CHILD? Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you,
Except ye be converted, AND BECOME AS LITTLE CHILDREN, ye shall not enter into the
kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the
same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Mat. 18:3-4
Christians today are not as quick to think of God as Father like they should. Christians
will use the word "God" most of the time, and "Lord" part of the time, but "Father"
seems to be reserved only for prayer. One has to wonder how often the average
Christian AFFECTIONATELY says "Father" during the start of a prayer. "[H]eavenly
Father" seems mechanical most of the time, when it is not supposed to be.
There is a reason why Christ told us to begin our prayers with "Our Father who art in
heaven." His was teaching us that EVERY APPEAL TO GOD IN PRAYER, IS TO BE MADE
WITH THE MENTAL IMAGE OF GOD AS FATHER. Yes, we should view God as Lord,
Creator, teacher, friend, and Saviour. But Father is what God wants to be; it is His heart-
felt desire: "And WILL BE A FATHER UNTO YOU, AND YE SHALL BE MY SONS AND
DAUGHTERS, saith the Lord Almighty" (2 Cor. 6:16-18).
Notice the, seldom-mentioned, reason why we were saved: John 1:12 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to..." BE SAVED?
It could just as well say that, but it doesn't! The goal is to, "BECOME THE SONS OF
GOD even to them that believe on his name."
Gal. 4:4-6 "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made
of a woman, made under the law, TO REDEEM THEM THAT WERE UNDER THE LAW,
THAT WE MIGHT..." BE SAVED? It could just as well say that, but it doesn't! The goal
is to: "RECEIVE THE ADOPTlON OF SONS. And because ye are sons, God hath sent
forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, CRYING, ABBA, FATHER."
Rom. 8:16-17 "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, THAT WE ARE..."
SAVED? It could just as well say that, but it doesn't! The goal is to be: "THE CHILDREN
OF GOD: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be
that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
1 John 3:1 "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, THAT
WE SHOULD BE [SAVED?] CALLED THE SONS OF GOD." (See also Eph. 1:5; Gal. 3:24-
26; Rom. 8:22-23)
Because our adoption as children is part of our salvation, we must perceive ourselves,
and therefore act, as CHILDREN OF THE KING. We are even encouraged to
affectionately approach God as Father and such heart-felt affection is supposed to roll
off our tongues: "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye
have received THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION, WHEREBY WE CRY, ABBA, FATHER." Rom.
"Abba" means Father as framed by the lips of an infant. It denotes confidence and
trust with a deep appreciation and identification with God as Father. To a child, "Abba
father" means, PROTECTOR, PROVIDER, HERO, the one whose arms that child will
confidently trust while jumping "into the deep end of the pool."
What goes through your heart and mind when you refer to God as Father? Is "Abba"
part of the mental picture? Does your heart cry out Abba? It's supposed to in a well-
adjusted, NON-DYSFUNCTIONAL Christian. Please take the time to read through the
Gospels. Learn everything that Christ said about His Father; He's YOUR FATHER ALSO!
Furthermore, study Jesus Christ. He said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father"
(John 14:9). Once you have grasped what your Father is like, meditate constantly upon
the fact that you are a CHILD OF THE KING!
IF you were to die today, are you 100% SURE
you would go to Heaven? The Bible says
YOU CAN BE SURE (1 John 5:13).
BUT FIRST, you must realize that what keeps you from going to Heaven are your sins, because:
"...your iniquities [sins] have separated between you and your God," Isaiah 59:2.
In fact, in God's eyes YOU ARE A SINNER: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Romans 3:23.
SECONDLY, you must realize that there is NOTHING you can do to save yourself and earn Heaven: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8-9) Baptism, good deeds, church membership, and self- righteousness are all examples of good works that cannot save you, because, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he [Christ] saved us," Titus 3:5.
THE ONLY WAY you can get saved is through Jesus Christ. He said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6) THAT'S WHY: "...while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8-9
THEREFORE: You must REPENT (change your mind); admit that you are a hell-deserving sinner and can't save yourself. And call upon Christ, and Him alone, to save you. "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [REPENT], and shalt believe in thine heart [TRUST] that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Romans 10:9
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