Father Abraham Had Many Sons

I try to scan a variety of news sources every day to cull possible topics or issues for blogging.  Scanning means looking at the headline/title.  A small percentage (less than 10%, probably) I actually load the article and scan the first few paragraphs.  If those look promising (not very many do) then I read the rest of the article.  If it gives me pause or seems to address something I think is important, I’ll either bookmark it for possible blog-fodder at a later date, or write on it immediately.  Each day, I scan probably 300+ headlines.  

I attempt not to blog on things that other Christian bloggers are writing on – at least those Christian bloggers that I scan each day.  One such blog that I encourage any of you to check into is Cranach: The Blog of Veith.  Check out his About page for more information on the author.  I have a great deal of respect for his insight and intellectual prowess.  And I hate him (jokingly!) at times for discovering things that, had he not already written about them, I would certainly have written about.  But since he probably has a gazillion readers, it’s ultimately a better thing that he write about stuff than that I do.  
Case in point .
Another study which devastatingly points out the importance of fathers in the future roles of their children’s life of faith.  Or lack thereof.  The full article that Veith refers to is here, and is worth the read if you have the time to do so – though it offers a lot more commentary than some people may like to wade through.  The net result of the study however is that fathers are the primary influence on whether their children will attend church or not as they become adults.  
Sobering food for thought, particularly for those of you out there with children still under your wing.  While the study doesn’t delve into this corollary topic, I wonder whether or not fathers who begin attending church after their children are grown have any positive effect on their children’s church attendance or not.  
This study can be read as both Law and Gospel – bad news and guilt as well as good news and joy.  For men who did not (or do not) regularly attend church with their family, this article may invoke a great deal of guilt.  Particularly if some/all of your children are not church attenders in their adult life.  Life is full of those moments of hindsight where we clearly see our failures and shortcomings.  We all have them.  But I suspect that the guilt of thinking that you were a contributing factor to your child not having an active life of faith in a church must be one of the most painful forms of guilt.  You feel the weight of the law, and how you have not measured up.
For those who have and do attend church regularly, this study may sound like very good news.  It affirms a man’s decision to maturely exercise their faith through regular public worship.  And if your children are still attending church as adults, it must be a huge blessing to know that you played a role in that – perhaps a very large role.  Praise God that He has used you in this vital way!
But we need to temper our reverence for studies.  I have no doubt that these findings are accurate.  But we also remember that each person is ultimately called to account for themselves before God.  We can point the finger at any number of other people in our lives to try and shift responsibility, but Biblical Christianity ultimately states that we are each responsible to God for our relationship to God.  Fathers and mothers may have a massive influence on their children’s lives of faith, but we must be careful not to assume more responsibility than is proper.  This individual responsibility also explains why even when mom and dad remain married and go to church every Sunday, one or more of their children may still decide that they have no interest in incorporating church into their adult lives.  Parents can do all the right things and children will still make their decisions.  
If you’re a father who hasn’t set the example that you feel you should have in regards to your family and church life, you can confess that sin.  I do it every week if not every day as I fail my family in some regard or another, whether perceived of actual.  Be honest with yourself and with God and be willing to repent – which means going beyond just feeling bad.  Being repentant means that you are willing to accept forgiveness, and if you confess this as part of worship or with your pastor, they should declare that forgiveness to you and assure you of it by virtue of your trust and faith in Jesus Christ as your resurrected savior.  
And once you have repented and confessed and received forgiveness, trust in the forgiveness and focus on that rather than on your shortcomings.  Make the necessary changes in your life that reflect your repentance.  Start going to church.  Be willing to talk with your family about your change of heart and your hopes for them.  Pray unceasingly that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in their lives, and provide opportunities as necessary for you to share and encourage and perhaps even admonish your children to reconsider their choices and the implications of those choices.  
And remember that all things are possible through God, and not through us.  What a relief and joy!

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