It is tragic when children abandon their adult parents. Sometimes, instead of honoring and helping their aging fathers and mothers, children ignore and reject them. It’s hard to understand such behavior, yet it happens; after all, there are support groups specifically designed for “parents of estranged children” and “abandoned parents”. Jesus condemned failures to support parents in need (Mark 7:9-13).
But what of God’s spiritual children, the followers of His Son, who abandon their heavenly Father? It’s hard for those of us who love God to imagine why folks would leave Him. After all, while earthly parents are imperfect, our heavenly Father is perfectly benevolent toward His children. Dr. Tom Holland notices that the apostle John provides four reasons why people forsake their Father (Entreating the Erring, 41-49):
- Some forsake God because the “world” (the multitude of sinners and the belief system that is opposed to God) becomes so strong in their lives that a true love for God is crowded out. John writes: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life — is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).
- Some forsake God because they begin to despise His word. John writes, “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:4-6).
- Some forsake God because they have been deceived. John writes, “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:7-8).
- Some forsake God because they begin to doubt whether they can live the Christian life, and become discouraged. John writes, “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:19-20).
Have you, or has someone you love, forsaken your loving Father for one of these four reasons? Remember, the Bible contains the solutions to any problem that has made a separation from God. Any of God’s children can be reunited with his Father, if he only is willing to be.