Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Me, Daddy & Plastic Jesus

My brother,

Something like this...
I have a memory that is more like a vision.  I was a boy, maybe seven, and my father was speaking to me about Jesus Christ.  For some reason my father took out a small colorless “plastic” Jesus from his closet (ever seen Cool Hand Luke?).  So he took it out and asked me, “Who is this?”  I responded, “that’s Jesus.”  My father firmly declared “no” and smacked the little statue against the closet.  My father concluded his iconoclastic message sternly saying, “This is a depiction of Jesus.  Not the real Jesus.”

As I continue to reflect on the images of manhood I can’t help but to think back upon my childhood.  Recently on facebook everyone changed their profile pictures to a cartoon character from their “younger” days.  It was interesting to see the choices and maybe even what it says about who they are right now (I’m no psychologist but it was a thought…for the record I picked Snake-Eyes & wifey picked Wonder Woman…’nuff said). 

Many of the ideas and images that shape our understanding of God and of ourselves are formed in childhood.  I remember how difficult it was for some of my peers to see God as both tender and tough, to be love but also to be holy.  And this was a seminary!  Why was it easier for me?  Simply put; my father was tender and tough.  My father was loving and firm, both gentle and at times aggressive. 

A father & son
Some psychologists have said that God is nothing more than a mental concept projected onto our lives.  While I disagree, I do believe that, “It is difficult for a boy to find something of a father in God if he cannot find something of God in his father.”  My father wasn’t perfect.  But he was present, loving and so much more.

Epifanio Chaparro
My father, Epifanio, gave me a standard of manhood worthy of honor.  And he pointed me in the direction of understanding the only wise God.  When my father smacked the image against the closet he helped me begin to see the difference between a psychological concept and the Living God who is Father, Word and Holy Spirit.

In my last post I began a conversation about images of manhood.  But the first image of manhood for so many men is formed and found through their father.  I believe that the distorted images of God and the rise of the images of men as wimpy, uncertain, even effeminate are rooted in the absence of fathers.

One of the major symptoms of this sin-sick world is called the “father-wound.”  To paraphrase Gordon Dalbey, the "father-wound" is a spiritual & psychological wound of absence.  This is a wound that needs healing even in Christian men.  I believe many Christian men struggle in their walk with God because they have failed to forgive the absence of their fathers.

Dalbey also said that the father-wound is the difference between what our earthly father could give us and what our Heavenly Father can give us.  So whether your father was an angel or a demon, he was a signpost for an identity, purpose and life found only through Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

When I see the one dimensional images that men wear to mask their true selves I see the father-wound.  I see it in the “ladies man” who can’t be truly intimate with a woman or see her true value.  Or the macho man who hides his own insecurities behind his physical bravado.  In the religious man who looks down on his brothers because he keeps a set of rules.  I could go on… 

I believe that the first image God wants to restore in us as men is the image of the Son.  It is supposed to start when we experience the new birth, when we believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead and we publicly confess Him as Lord and Savior.  In this spiritual new birth we can rightly relate to God as our Father and we are positioned as sons of God through God the Son, Jesus Christ. 

We have the Scriptures to train us, God the Holy Spirit who empowers us and the brotherhood of other sons of God to continue smashing the plastic images of God.

But we need to see ourselves as sons of the Father.  We need to look to the relationship Jesus Christ had with the Father as the blueprint for our relationship with God.  We need to walk alongside other sons who are taking their walk seriously and honestly. 

Jesus told the disciples to embrace the Kingdom as children. 

Do you see yourself as a son of God?
There is a boy in us that needs the Father’s affirmation & validation…

There is a young man in us that needs to root his identity in Christ Jesus…

And there is the warrior God, the Holy Spirit, who wants to train us to be men… 

Then we will be known as the sons of God.

I pray that you will walk with the Father and he will help you see who you really are in Christ.

Your brother, 

Minister Onorio

Our spiritual heritage is greater than our natural heritage.” AR Bernard

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