Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Fathering of God, Part 3

I am quite a fan of the movies and television series based on the original Star Trek television series. There is one fictional character from the series Star Trek Voyager who I think gives a powerful metaphor for understanding God’s purpose for human maturation and what that process requires and leads to. Follow me here as I explain why I think it is so helpful. 

In the television series Voyager (season 4) a new character is introduced who becomes part of the crew of this space ship. This character is part of the Borg “collective” and gets severed from her grouping of “Borg.” The “Borg” are individuals who have been assimilated, through a process of having advanced technology implanted into their bodies, into one collective consciousness. They become drones who serve only the tyrannical will of the “Borg Collective” (the “Hive Mind”) in its drive to assimilate, utilize and in the process destroy all individuality from the organic life forms they encounter. This character learns how to be an individual—to think, to feel, to be alone and then to develop relationships with other people.

As a part of the “Borg” she had no true choice in anything. Everything that she did was regulated and was done to further the general purpose of the “Borg” collective. She had been stripped of her individuality, her body had been violated (sophisticated technology implanted in her) and she had ceased to have a will of her own. 

I think that this is a remarkably apt picture of living in this world without knowing the Creator God. To live in ignorance of God is to be subject to what the New Testament writers’ refer to as “the world [system]”; to do so means that you no longer know who you are or what you were created for and are literally enslaved to the domination of Satan. This is the one whom the Lord Jesus referred to as “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30). The enemy tricks worldly people into thinking that they have freedom to do what they want but this is an illusion; for they can only choose between a range of options dictated by their slavery to sin.  

The Lord Jesus gives true spiritual freedom as he introduces us to the living God and we begin to progressively understand what God’s will is ourselves and all of creation. So those who are true disciples of Jesus and who know God as Father live in the world but are no longer slaves to the evil world system that we all see exhibited around us each day (but most do not really understand). 

According to Jesus, he was sent to announce and demonstrate the Kingdom of God on earth; that is, to give people a way to become free from the evil of the “world system” that oppresses and destroys human beings by encouraging them to rebel against God and to hate and kill each other. The writer of Hebrews teaches us how to enter and live in God’s Kingdom under the kind rule our “Father who is in the heavens.” In this way we can know how to not conform to evil but live for God and please God as his children in this evil age. 

God’s fathering is beautifully described in Hebrews 12:1-3. The writer directs us to focus our faith squarely on Jesus (vv.1-4). The Lord in his life on earth is held up as the model for faithful endurance. He is not merely the One we are to believe in (object) but one whose example we who are his disciples are to follow. And he trusted God his Father and he was blessed for enduring great suffering; for this great suffering had as its purpose to redeem us and reconcile us to the living God. So he then becomes not only our Savior but also the one we imitate as we learn what is involved in knowing God as Father for ourselves.  

The writer is writing to believers and thus he exhorts them. We are to submit to doing what God wills because we are God’s sons and daughters (v.5). We belong to him and he has the right to command us to obey him in all things. And should we choose to resist his clear commands or choose to do things that we know displease him he will “discipline” us! This is quite encouraging because disciplines confirm your Divine parentage (vv.5-7; see Proverbs 3:11-12). 

But what exactly the discipline of God like? What is the purpose of God’s fathering of us in this way? (vv.8-10) God’s fathering us through discipline is designed to break us from love of “the world” and “worldliness” so we can then mature into fully developed disciples of Jesus; that is, to become fully human as he was through spiritual union with God. This is what is being referred to when the writer states that God disciplines us so that we may “share in his holiness.” (v.10) And God’s discipline involves chastisement (punishment) but the aim is the education of the child of God.

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