Last month I shared how the past affects the present in dealing with authority in the church. You can read that article here: https://www.4witness.org/church-issues-how-does-the-past-affect-the-present/ Being in daily on line conversations with people who’ve been abused by parental, spousal, and church authority, it’s not surprising to hear their struggle to trust words in the Bible such as “honor your father and mother” or “obey those taking the lead.” It’s a challenge to share the love of Christ to hurting people without offending them with scripture when it’s been used in the past to manipulate their trust. None the less, I always endeavor to share the truth that God intends better things for us and offers an abundant life. This is difficult to accept when you’ve been abused by people who were “supposed” to represent God in their shepherding role.
A member in our Meetup support group who was struggling with the abuse dished out by his father, an elder in the congregation, asked, “How do I honor my father and mother?” I see his heart for God, yet so much of his life has been stolen and in the place of abundance is lack. And so, this passage comes to mind.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. (John 10:10-11)
Parenting is a shepherding role. Do all parents shepherd their children? Being a husband and father is a shepherding role. Do all husbands take the lead and lay down their lives and love their wives as Christ loved the church? Leading God’s people is a shepherding role. Wasn’t Jesus upset with the supposed shepherds of the flock in Israel? Though we’re called to honor our parents, spouses, and elders, lets’ face it, not all honor their role.
God sent His Son to Israel, yet the shepherds of the flock rejected Him. They were BAD shepherds. The GOOD SHEPHERD is Jesus who laid down His life for us. He is the one who came that we may have life, and have it abundantly. The enemy wants us to stay trapped in situations of seeing others as in charge — even when they’re BAD shepherds.
Women abused by husbands are given perverted versions of scripture on being a more submissive wife. Abusive elders “rape” us with Hebrews 13:17 and lord their “authority” over us. Repeated abuse from bad shepherds leaves the victim believing they are worthless. But at the end of the day, which shepherd’s voice did we heed? Jesus is the GOOD shepherd. He is Lord of lords and King of kings — that tells me He is Lord over the lord that is over us whatever that lord may be (husband, parent, elder).
So instead of wondering if we are honoring our parents, our spouse, our church leadership, etc. we need to first look at if we have honored the LORD that is above those positions. How do we honor Him? By accepting the words of value He speaks over us instead of the lies that come from abuse.
What a scheme of the enemy to twist scripture in such a way as to make us think we are dishonoring God by not honoring lesser lords. The thief came to steal the Lord’s exalted position, and by our agreement that those UNDER Him are more important than the King Himself, we end up honoring unworthy “lords” and therefore have over us as lord their lord who is the father of lies. That is a place of darkness, separated from the Father who seeks to strengthen us with His love rather than destroy us with manipulation and lies.
If we desire a relationship with our true Father, the Eternal King, the Good Shepherd of our souls, then we need to accept our place of worth in HIS eyes and leave “our father’s house” and enter the King’s palace.
Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear: Forget your people and your father’s house; Then the King will desire your beauty. (Psalm 45:10-11)
Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie