Very often when new understanding breaks upon the Church, believers preach, teach, and organise themselves in line with that new understanding. But sometimes a movement goes too far, or grasps new ideas with incomplete understanding, and so there may be unintended consequences. People mean well, but find there are some unexpected outcomes which have to be corrected.
With a breakthrough in understanding regarding sonship, and the relational aspect of Christianity, here are some guidelines to prevent things going too far and becoming what they were never intended to be.
- The Place of Jesus. In all we do, we seek to know Christ, reveal Christ and love the way Christ loved. In everything we do in relationships, it must continue to be this way.
- The Brotherhood Context. Even though we teach father-son relationships in the church, and encourage believers to see themselves as a son who should walk with a father in the ministry, we must also be clear that the Church is principally a brotherhood. These ideas are not exclusive and don't' push each other out. So no matter what your position in the Body, you are loved, you are accepted, you are honoured, and you are equal. You are no less in Christ if you don't have a spiritual father or son, or haven't experienced these things yourself.
- Careful Speech and Terminology. The use of the words father and son is only needed to describe how it works. It's not needed, and shouldn't be used in real life for titles, or referring to people. The important thing is the relationship itself. Jesus also said not to call anyone Father, so it also emphasizes this important point. When praying for someone who may be a spiritual son or something, we always refer to them as our brother or sister in the Lord. We don't make things hierarchical, we are equals, and we include people and love them with our language too.
- Don't Make Claims Over People. This is mainly for leaders. Don't claim to be somebody's father, or the right to be their father, and don't go around claiming sons. Just be a father if you are one, and serve them, at least until your personal maturity, and the genuineness of your relationship is evident and established.
- Principle of Freedom. Allow room for people to come and go and to serve, try to serve and to fail. Give people space, don't control them or put on them burdens, hierarchical demands or impose systems.
- Relationships are Inclusive, not Exclusive. We are not locking people out of “special relationships” that they cannot be a part of. We include people, make them loved and welcome. We are a family, the Body of Christ. Nobody who seeks God is denied belonging.
- Sonship is a Grace and not a duty. We are not forcing people into sonship. No-one has to do this.
In the end it is all about love. The father-son concept (sonship) is really seeking to see God and be like God. Not everyone gets it this way, and we seek to love all and include all people no matter if they understand, agree, or not. We are all God's family and we belong to each other.