“See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory].” — 1 John 3:1-2 (AMP)
Before anyone can really live the life of Christ, they have to embrace the mission of Christ.
A lot of people miss why Jesus came to earth. He didn’t come just to save you, He didn’t come just so that you don’t have to go to hell — although those are wonderful byproducts. He came to introduce us to the Father. Understanding the love of God our Father, is the single most important, Kingdom-foundational principle of our faith — it’s what every Christian believer must know in order to live the life of Christ. It’s only when we understand this, that we are not just practicing a religion, but we really get to know who God is.
Jesus told the Pharisees that the reason they didn’t understand His words is because they didn’t know God His Father. If they knew the Father, they would have loved Jesus because He came from Him — He was His Source.
As a pastor and a football chaplain, I deal with a lot of people who really struggle with the idea of receiving God as their father. They have a hard time allowing God to be their father because of all the negative associations or images they have of their natural fathers. For many, when they think of a “father” they think of abuse, lying, cheating, etc. Even if someone has a great natural father, they still think about an imperfect person. Our fathers’ imperfections can easily skew our ability to receive God as our Father.
That is why Jesus came. If you look at what Jesus talked about when He came to earth, He always focused on Heaven and on His Father. He spoke about where He came from and where we came from; He talked not only about His Father, but also ours. Being able to embrace the concept of God as our father, enables us to live as His sons and daughters here on earth.
The No. 1 issue I face with athletes is their warped sense of fatherhood, which in turn warps their sense of manhood, which causes them to malfunction. When anyone is unable to receive God as their father, they are unable to receive their Source and Provider. This is the One we get our identity from, who shapes our perception of who we are.
“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your father, you would love Me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on My own; God sent Me. Why is My language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me!” — John 8:42-45
We have an opponent who doesn’t want us to find victory in this. In football, if someone in front of you is stronger than you but maybe not smarter than you, you have to use their strength and momentum against them. In the same way, if the devil can’t stop you, he will push you in whatever direction you bend toward.
But true fatherhood represents the source that takes responsibility. There are two extremes (for both men and women) that we will tend toward if we do not receive God as our Source.
For men, the first extreme is what I refer to as the Ahabs: men who refuse to trust that God will provide for them and therefore they neglect the authority God graced them with, allowing motherhood to do it instead. These are the passive-aggressives. Ahab gave up his authority because he did not trust that God would provide through him. Ultimately, this type of man has a poor self-image and thinks that God would never use him to provide. He is afraid to do what he was created to do so he lets someone else do it instead.
The second extreme for men are the Samsons: men who believe that they are their own source. I see this a lot in the NFL — they think their talents and abilities originate from within. Because of this mindset, they overstep their boundaries and end up looking for hookups and shortcuts because they struggle to follow the rules.
For women, the first extreme we see are the Jezebels: women who, because of the failures of fatherhood in their past or the failure of the male figure in their present, become the over-achievers. Because of the messiness of their natural father, they believe that their Heavenly Father cannot or will not provide, so they are driven to achieve for themselves. Afraid of not being taken care of, these women find themselves doing things that they were never supposed to do.
* It’s important to note that there would not be a Jezebel without an Ahab first. Just like we often blame Eve for sinning, but fail to recognize that Adam was first responsible, in the same way, motherhood often gets the rap for what fatherhood was supposed to fulfill. When a woman is lifting a man’s weight, even if she can do it, she becomes embittered and hard, knowing that it isn’t her responsibility.
The second type of woman who rebels from the true source is the Delilah. Delilahs are women who, because of the lack of a father figure in their lives, have a lack of identity or a poor self-image. Young girls learn how to nurture from their mothers, but they develop a character from their father. When anyone tries to develop a personality without a character they become an actor and instead of looking to their Heavenly Father to shape their character, they use other means. Fearful that they’re not good enough to be provided for by God, they use their sensuality against men. And becoming queens of manipulation, they exchange their purity for social and financial security.
Jesus declared that the problem of this world is the lack of fatherhood. But because of God’s grace and the sacrifice of Christ, we are able to be set free from the entanglement of this trap and find our real identity in our true source — our Father God.
“Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are His child, God has made you also an heir.” — Galatians 4:6-7
— Pastor Ted Winsley, Philadelphia Eagles chaplain
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.