On Fatherlessness and the Orphan Heart In the Church

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Friend, do you ever feel like an orphan? Do you have a nagging sensation that no one loves you or wants you, even when you go to church? Do you wish that someone would mentor you and help you grow to become all that God created you to be?

If so, let’s talk about fatherlessness and the wounded orphan heart today–particularly as it relates to the modern church.

Fatherlessness is a spiritual pandemic in the modern church.

And so is the orphan heart that fatherlessness produces.

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    Despite the fact that Father God loves and adores His children, a lot of Christians in the Church today have never felt loved or adored. Instead, they feel like orphans. You may be one of those orphans, as I definitely used to be.

    Why do we have this epidemic of orphanhood?

    In far too many cases, the root of the problem is simply this: we have birthed children and gathered new church members, but we have not raised them to know that they are sons and daughters. We have failed to father the children of God.

    This unfortunate truth is not a hopeless one; it can be fixed!

    To fix it, though, we must first look the problem square in the eye. We can no longer afford to believe that our discipleship methods have been adequate. The visible results (and lack of results) of our methods prove that we need to do something different.

    So instead of looking at our traditional methods—methods that leave us comfortable, and  infringe minimally upon our time and privacy—it’s time to look at something new. It’s time to go back to the original pattern for making disciples: the pattern that Jesus Himself showed us–that of the spiritual family of God: mothers and fathers and sons and daughters chasing God together.

    Read the series!

    How do we get from spiritual orphanhood to a deep knowledge of our status as beloved sons and daughters?

    How do we move from our current, ineffective methods and begin raising up sons and daughters the way Jesus did? First, we have to look at where we are now in order to build a road map for where we want to go.

    Let’s begin by looking frankly at our current condition.

    We in the Church may or may not have done the best we could over the past decades. Either way, the results have been the same: we have a lot of orphans in the Church today, but not many people who feel or act like sons and daughters.

    Whether or not we have meant to do so:

    • The Body of Christ has generally failed to get life-on-life with sons and daughters in the Church.
    • We have failed to raise up spiritual and biological children into their callings and giftings.
    • In so many cases, we have clung to our achievements, our positions, and our ministries … but we have forgotten that there is no success without a successor, and that more successors produce even more success.
    • We have forgotten that expanding God’s Kingdom is our first priority; and that, in order to expand that Kingdom, we need all hands on deck, operating at full power.

    Additionally, although we have mentored a few select individuals—publicly knighting those men and women with the coveted status of “sons” and “daughters”—we have failed to make it clear that every Christian is a son or daughter (and should be treated accordingly).

    In most cases, although we have taught and preached the Word of God from our pulpits and in our Sunday School classrooms, we have failed to build a culture that mentors, equips, and gives opportunity to every person to walk in his or her calling.

    Because we have failed to raise up sons and daughters, our church pews are filled with people who feel like they do not belong.

    For example:

    • They sense no connection to the Body of Christ.
    • Even more alarmingly, they sense no intimate connection with our Heavenly Father.
    • They hear the privileged few being referred to as “sons” and “daughters,” and they long for someone—anyone—to adopt them as a son or daughter.
    • They weep when they hear sermons about being adopted by “Abba Father” because these precious, hurting people feel like orphans.

    Unfortunately, for many decades, we have ignored this disease of orphanhood that has taken root among us.

    Sometimes we have simply not recognized the problem for what it is. Other times, in the same way the priests and Levites passed by the dying Samaritan on the road, we have simply looked away from the sons’ and daughters’ pain.

    And instead of begging God to give us His heart toward all His children, we have been content to let the orphans suffer while we enjoy the comfort of our ignorance and apathy. God, have mercy on us.

    And yet, we see the orphan heart every day. Here’s what spiritual orphanhood looks like:

    • Sons and daughters with orphan hearts sit in our church pews, ministry teams, and small groups every day.
    • They are all around you, and they look like they’re fine; but inwardly, they are dying.
    • These sons and daughters walk around in a cloud of silent cries for help.
    • The symptoms of their orphan sickness often show up at inconvenient times.

    However, instead of getting embarrassed when we see these displays of spiritual sickness–and instead of allowing our sons and daughters to cower and wallow in shame, and instead of embarrassing them for displaying a sickness they cannot cure–we need to recognize the symptoms of the orphan heart so that we may become agents of healing.

    Many emotional problems and bad habits or behavioral tendencies are rooted in a bleeding, orphan heart.

    For example, many believers deal with extreme fear. When people ask me for prayer, fear is probably the number one thing for which they request healing.

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    Where does that fear come from? From father issues. First John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” It is a father’s job to love and protect his child. When we feel fear, it is because we do not feel loved or protected; therefore, fear of any type always demonstrates that we have not yet been able to internalize Father’s love in some way.

    Many times, I have prayed with sons and daughters who have such fears—whether fear of physical danger, fear of opening their heart to others, or even fear of allowing the world to see their skills—only to find that their fathers failed or hurt them in that area. Yet, I have seen the Holy Spirit bring much healing as soon as He shows each person the connection to their natural father or father figures, and they forgive those fathers.

    If we do not take the time to dig deeper when we see our sons and daughters behaving as orphans, we often label the behavioral or emotional issue as uncurable, or as a sign of bad choices. We say, “Someday they’ll learn,” or perhaps “That’s their problem and they need to get over it.”

    However, unless each son or daughter receives God’s love and healing for their orphan heart, they cannot “get over it.” The heart of the orphan is truly sick, and only Father’s love—ministered to each heart by the Holy Spirit of adoption Himself—can heal it.

    If you feel like an orphan, you may have already noticed some of the symptoms of orphanhood and father wounds.

    Related: 17 Signs and Symptoms of Father Wounds

    Of course, you might also have noticed the symptoms, but not have noticed that they are a problem! Unfortunately, the orphan heart produces so much malfunction and hurt in your life that it keeps you from knowing that this orphan state isn’t normal.

    Nevertheless, I want you to know today that the symptoms of orphanhood are as far from God’s definition of normal as it’s possible to get. It is not God’s will for you to suffer with orphan symptoms any longer. It is His will for you to be healed today!

    As we walk through this series on healing from father wounds, first we are learning about the ripple effect of these types of hurts and wounds–and how they impact your life on all levels. Then, we will pray specific, targeted prayers corporately to receive healing from the Lord from father wounds.

    Stay tuned!

    Did this discussion about fatherlessness and the orphan heart in the church resonate with you? What are your thoughts on the matter? Leave a comment below!

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