The other day Asher and I went through the drive through at Burger King after school. This restaurant only uses their front window. The back window serves no real purpose—except for a glimpse into the inner workings.
As we waited in line, we watched a young man pealing and preparing onions. He didn’t appear to be enjoying the job. He grimaced as he pealed and sliced.
My heart went out to him. I’m not a fan of onion pealing, either.
But I love the image when it applies to understanding scripture. I relish the opportunities to pull back the outer (obvious) layers to discover the deeper meanings so I can come closer to the heart of God.
Looking at this text has pushed me to do that.
My online research seemed mired in studies that barely scraped the surface. The messages and commentary revealed a free-for-all of “Listen up, Kiddo, and do what your parents tell you.”
That can’t be the only reason.
Keep in mind these commands were given as God was seeking to develop the identity and community of his chosen people. The Spirit of the Law is God protecting and growing his people.
So God starts by making sure his people have laid the groundwork in their relationship: no other gods, no idols, carrying his name well, and resting in him. This fifth command is the transition from focus on their vertical relationship with him to the outer-workings of their relationships with others.
And it all begins at home.
The home is the place where we need to learn how to live and deal with others. Our relationship with our parents is a reflection of our relationship with God, and with authority in general.
The question that inevitably rises comes in the form of an objection or excuse: “But you don’t know how crumby my parents were.” “My dad left—I don’t have a father to honor.” “My mom is just a drug abusing whore.”
I get it. My parents were alcoholics—albeit functioning, but complete with all the baggage that goes with. I grew up with the emotional uncertainty and the psychological scars.
In college, and later during my years of Clinical Pastoral Education, I came to realize God provided godly men and women who stood in the gap for me when my parents couldn’t. Some of them appeared as Girl Scout Leaders, or the parents of friends. Others were the spiritual leaders of Choirs and Folk Groups, and youth leaders at church.
And here, my friends, where the Church needs to perk up its ears—especially in our world today. Now, as much or more than ever, the church needs to lean in and live out the instruction to care for the widows and orphans. They are all around us and our responsibility is clear: we are family and we need accept the responsibility of getting this right.
May it never be said of the church: I have no spiritual fathers or mothers there.
There is no honor in that at all.