“Hubris” is a very important Biblical word denoting an exaggerated self-confidence akin to arrogance. In the Garden of Eden story, all Adam and Eve had to do to stay in Paradise was to let God be God. And it was the one thing they would not do. They wanted to trust in their own resources, apart from God. As a result, they could no longer remain in the Garden. They were estranged from God. Hubris: the pride of not letting God be God!
This is not an easy lesson for a society in which a “self-made man” or a “self-made woman” is idealized. A man brought his boss home for dinner for the first time.
The boss was very blustery, very arrogant, very dominating! The little boy in the family stared at his father’s boss for most of the evening, but did not say anything. Finally, the boss asked the little boy, “Why do you keep looking at me like that, sonny?” The little boy answered, “My daddy says you are a self-made man.” The boss beamed and proudly admitted that indeed he was a self-made man. The little boy said, “Well, if you are a self-made man, why did you make yourself like that?”
My children once asked, “If you knew that momma was going to get cancer and die so young would you have married her?” My response? “In a heart beat!” I have known since my teenage years what I wanted in life. The ministry has been my dream. I have never questioned that calling. There have been some difficult years in ministry, but I look back with only joy over those years. As fun and as fulfilling as ministry has been and remains in my life, it is nothing compared to my family. Even the pain of Vickie’s death doesn’t erase the happiness of 18 years of marriage. And of all of those planned things in my life, the one thing that has been one of the greatest joys has been being a father.
Fatherhood is changing, and I am excited to see the change come. The younger generation of fathers are taking a much more active role as a parent. While fathers have always bonded with their children, the bonding is now even stronger. It is that bonding that makes life worthwhile. When Brooks was two I was home alone watching her and she ate some dirt out of a flower pot, her face swelled. I called the doctor and yelled at the nurse who wouldn’t seem to put me through to the doctor. The words of the doctor, “Mr. McConnell, it looks worse than it really is.”
Jonathan in his mid teenage years was asserting his manhood. I would get ready to leave in the morning and say, “Aren’t you going to kiss me goodbye?” He would respond by saying, “Dad, now think about this.” Yet, I noticed as I put them on the airplane to fly to their grandfather’s for a visit that there were tiers in Brooks’ eyes and even Jonathan gave me a hug without me asking.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” In many respects I was lucky growing up because I was exposed to two fathers. The first was my birth father, who was never really a father. A man who was self-centered and ungiving. A man who really wasn’t interested in family or parenting. My second father was my adoptive father, who really wanted me. A man who even though he had faults, was loving and caring. A man who tried in the short time that he had me to instill some important principles in me. Which one do you think was really my father? Note the one who gave me birth. The one who gave me his love.
Father has very little to do with who gives birth, but everything with who parents.
Jesus was very lucky because He had two fathers and earthy father who taught Him how to be a man, and a Heavenly Father who taught Him how to be God.
Our scripture text has Jesus in the garden in those final hours. He is God, so He knows what is ahead for Him – He must die. The disciples that He has taken with Him to the garden aren’t very much comfort, they keep falling asleep. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
“My Father” The Greek word, “Pater.” The importance of “Pater” is that it is not the biological word for father. It is the word for nourisher, protector and upholder.
I like that – that is what a father (a real father) is! One that nourishes. One that protects. One that upholds.
Harvard University sociologists Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck developed a test (that proved to be ninety percent accurate) to determine whether or not five-and six-year-olds would become delinquent. They discovered that the four primary factors necessary to prevent delinquency are: A father’s firm, fair, and consistent discipline; a mother’s supervision and companionship; the parent’s demonstrated affection for each other and for the children the family spending time together in activities where all participated.
The role of the father is only effective if the father is the nourisher, protector and upholder. I am sure you read in the paper as I did about a certain denomination that is wanting the wife to be submissive. Family life isn’t about authority and it is certainly not about power. It is about who is doing the job. And frankly men, women have carried the burden, far too long.
Being a man, is being responsible. And responsibility begins at home!