1Cor 4:14-16 Parental Discipleship

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May 8, 2023, 6:11:04 AM5/8/23
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Parental Discipleship

1Cor 4:14-16  I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.

There are denominations which use the title "father" in a religious sense contrary to what Jesus taught saying, "do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven." Mt 23:9 Jesus was speaking of the religious elite of his day who loved to go by religious titles, seeking the praise of men, just as there are those today who do likewise. Paul was not using "father" as a religious title here but rather was describing his function.

Spiritual parenting is part of the Christian life, which is incorporated in Jesus' command, "go and make disciples of all nations" Mt 28:19 Paul was such an example, not only with regards to his relationship with his churches, but also in particular with regards to his relationship with Timothy. But what is the difference between a guardian and a parent? Most Christian ministers take the role of guardian. You might come to their church, stay for few years and leave, and they're not affected one way or another. They may not even notice you're gone.

But spiritual parenting is largely neglected. I think the reason why this has been is because few Christian leaders had themselves been discipled in such a sense. And so no surprise that those they teach never catch the concept of discipleship. Indeed "discipleship" itself has been largely relegated to programs. Personal "parental" discipleship was what Christian discipleship was meant to be. Consider Jesus' relationship with his disciples. That's a picture of what was intended for every Christian. And likewise the very role of father and the family unit was to be a picture of discipleship just as marriage is a metaphor for the church's relationship with Christ. (Eph 5:31,32) And Paul commanded we imitate him in this regards.

But just as there is a need for parental discipleship, so also there is a need for the saints to submit themselves to it. That is, at least in my experience, rarely can one find any Christian willing to be so discipled. Sign of the times?

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