Butterflies in the stomach are nothing. Try piranhas! That’s what my insides felt like on the day that I had my first job interview. I was 18 and my parents were lovingly giving me that shove to say, “listen buckaroo life costs money, get off your rear end and start working.” They persuaded me to apply to work at a local Christian Bookstore. When I entered the office of the manager, he looked at me and said, “Ben, your last name is Zornes, and that’s good enough for me.”
I was slightly confused, and my face must have resembled a Mississippi deer in a redneck’s headlights. He explained further, “I have met your father, Tom, a few times, and I’ve heard so many good things about him. His character is of the best caliber and I’ve no doubt that his son will have the same character. The job is yours.”
The weight of both the responsibility and the pride that came with that intimation was overwhelming. My first thought was, “if my Dad is so well respected, then I dog-gone better not do anything that would bring shame or dishonor to him; I will not embarrass my father.” My second thought was, “Dude! my Dad is a stud!”
Our culture is becoming more and more fatherless, and our crime rate, moral decline, and societal laziness are all symptoms of this disease. The criminals are not just gang-bangers, drug dealers, axe murderers, or pedophiles; the criminals of our day are increasingly going by the title “your honor” and other names like “senator,” “president,” or “secretary of ____.” Our fatherlessness pervades every level of society, from government and education, to our homes and towns. Our leaders are more like a little child eating a box of jelly-donuts ten minutes before dinner than they are like battle-tested warriors or sagacious poets. But we are told that God is a father to the fatherless (Ps. 68:5), and this prodigal generation needs that good news now more than ever.
The Christian is a child of the King and that ought to impress upon us both the responsibility of such a privilege and the great dignity that such a position confers to us.The Christian is a child of the King and that ought to impress upon us both the responsibility of such a privilege and the great dignity that such a position confers to us. The latter leads the Christian to walk fearless, for, since we bear our Father’s name, our reputation precedes us. We do not speak on our own authority, and even if our message is disliked, we courageously proclaim it all the same. The former (i.e. the responsibility) ought to weigh upon us as well. Are we bringing honor or shame to the name which we bear? Does this rebel generation see a dignified mien in our lives, or do they think we are just like them?
There is a distinction between the children of darkness and the children of light, and the way you can tell the difference is that one is shining, the other is lost and alone in the darkness of greed, lust, pride, and insolence. As Moody once said, “Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.”
This void of fathers must be filled; we need healthy and biblical “fatherliness” to once more permeate every level of society. I am grateful for my earthly father’s legacy and for the dignity that he brought to the name “Zornes.” He came out of an abusive family of alcoholics, and he labored hard to ensure that his name was an honorable and noble one. I want to live so that when anyone meets my Dad, they already think highly of him because of the honorable life his son is living. But as a father myself, I desire to inspire my children to live to honor the name Zornes as well. I want my children to walk into their first job interview and have it be a shoe-in simply because of the honor and reputation that goes with the name Zornes.
However, deeper and beyond that, we as Christians need to see that our role is one of both receiving the Name above all names, and one of representing it! We ought not neglect either angle of this great privilege of bearing our Abba, Father’s name. Therefore, may we walk fearless, and yet at the same time tremble, lest we disgrace that Awesome Name!