June 15, 2013

Fathers Protect the Inheritance With Self-sacrificial Love

In our time many men, like King Ahab in the 1 Kings 21.1-10 Reading, have abdicated their role and responsibilities as protectors of the family inheritance. My generation matured in the 60’s when women were struggling for equal treatment as employees. Since then there has been a lot of male authority bashing as the excesses of male physical and sexual abuse have been exposed. The Lectionary Bible Readings help us understand the role and responsibilities of Jewish and Christian men as fathers.
1. The “vineyard” is a metaphor for spiritual life
A vineyard is a complex living creation that requires constant nourishment and protection – just like a human life and particularly like human spiritual life.

·         Continued effort is required to work the soil, plant, water, weed for healthy growth
o   Bible Study, prayer, acts of love
·         Hedge or watchtower is required for protection from birds, insects & thieves
o   Self-examination, Confession
·         Value is added which is impossible to cost
·         World is like a vineyard, God like the keeper
Story is about trading or selling the family and personal spiritual inheritance for something of much less worth
2. Naboth shows self-sacrificial love – protects
Naboth rejects what on the surface appears to be a fair offer – monetary value or alternative land. But this is a deception and not a good deal at all:
·         Vineyard represents all his family had worked for generations -  spiritual attachment
·         Alternative land would not be as well cared for – would have to be developed all over
·         Alternative land would not have family connection – end of connection, memory
·         Intangible value cannot be replaced
·         Naboth rejects offer probably knowing there would be repercussions
·         Jesus models the same self-sacrificial love on the Cross
·         Jesus is also our Father – He and the Father are one – “I have a father” (song)
3. Abandoning inheritance has consequences
Ahab, like many men, abandoned his inheritance as a Jewish man:
·         Failed to uphold the law – Coveted vineyard
·         Abdicated husband / father authority to wife
·         Failed to protect wife and family – all died violent deaths as prophesied
We live in a time when many men and fathers have lost their place. The Readings challenge men (fathers) to earn, recover and protect their spiritual inheritance by:
·         Knowing their place in families as ‘men of God’ - demonstrating self-sacrificial love
o   Men of God know God personally
o   Men of God cover their families with a covenant of protection and love
o   Men of God demonstrate their love of God with self-sacrificial love
o   Men of God give up their lives to protect and nurture their families

·         Knowing their spiritual authority and responsibilities through Bible Study
o   Male authority has to be earned
o   Based on spiritual knowledge and relationship to God – not gender
o   Male authority is based on acceptance of responsibility

We live in a challenging time when many men are re-discovering their God-given role and responsibilities. We all need to give thanks for this and pray for men who are still struggling to find their inheritance as men of God

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