Monday, January 07, 2008

The forgotten father

Who are you trying to impress?

I have had it said to me in a derogatory manner; I expect you have too. When I was a child I was trying to impress my father. He was a severe man and not easily impressed. He always expected more. When he died in 1980 I was cast adrift. Who should I try to impress? Who was the arbiter of my performance?

Dad never lived to see me appear on television, become a professor, lecture to an audience of 5000, travel the world, become famous in my field. Most of my achievements came after he died. Who was I trying to impress?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus wants us to impress out heavenly Father. I had never noticed it before but the reason we are to love our enemies is so that we may be 'sons of our Father in heaven'.

We are to do good secretly. If we boast about it we will have no reward from our Father in heaven. When we give to the needy we don't want to impress men but we should give secretly so that our Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward us. When we pray we should go into our room and pray secretly, "Our Father...". Our Father knows what we need before we ask, so we don't need to babble - or pray eloquent prayers that impress the congregation. We should honestly and sincerely forgive others who offend us - because if we don't our Father will not forgive us. We should not make a show of our religion. It is the unseen Father who will reward us.

We should not be concerned by this world's goods or its rewards. If we are not careful they will master us. Our true Master has different priorities. And we can't serve two masters. In any case why worry about what we will eat and drink or what we will wear. Our Father knows our needs and will surely provide for them - and all that time wasted on worrying ...

Whatever we need, simply ask the Father. My father was austere, but he always provided for me. Will not my heavenly Father out-father my dad?

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