Three events this past week inspired me to study the topic ‘Fatherhood’. Most churches last Sunday commemorated ‘Father’s Day’. It was also my dad’s 83rd Birthday and I thought of the kind things he did for me growing up. Moreover, Dorothy after 2 weeks returns home and in her absence I’ve been re-examine my role as a responsible ‘father’ to Alethea & Charis
If one’s name or title is meant to reveal one’s nature, the Bible in referring to God as ‘Father’ teaches much about his character and ways. The OT contains about 7 references to God as father, the NT over 70 and Jesus in Matthew 6 alone refers over 7 times to God as our ‘heavenly father’. In reality, different people associate the title ‘father’ to diverse images, which can evoke either good or negative responses. All human fathers quickly realize our own failures, shortcomings, limitations and inadequacies to live up to the social ideals of fatherhood. Yet the concept of God as father can inspire and challenge us all when it comes to mutual care-giving in the Christian family & ministry
In 2Cor.6:18, God Almighty declares: ‘I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons/daughters’. Paul noticed how the churches in Corinth had ‘many teachers but not many father (figures)’. Whether we are biological fathers or not, what is it about ‘Father God’ that is appealing and worth emulating?
First, in a world where much is transient God presents himself as a personal and permanent Father (Psa.145:18; 34:18; Acts 17:27). This is comforting in view of today’s ‘vanishing father’, increasing divorce rate and single mother parenting. Jesus taught us to address God with the most endearing household term – Abba (Matt 7:11) God is near, not far from us; he intimately knows us, loves and loves to meet our needs. This attribute meets the essential human need to be loved, from which a child, or adult, derives significance amidst social meaninglessness. It hurts me to think of times when I gave my kids the impression, ‘Daddy is never around’. Having experienced God’s bonding love, I’m eager to ‘be there’ – near and dear, sacrificially giving myself to them.
Second, the God and father of our Lord is passionate and compassionate (Psa.103:13). He feels for, literally ‘suffers with’ his children. Peter urges believers facing trials to ‘cast all anxieties on him because he cares’ (1Pet. 5:7). This characteristic corresponds with the fatherly role that meets the need for security. It involves protecting and providing for all entrusted to us. God places and requires me as the man or ‘head/kephale’ of my home, not to boss or control other members but to be a source for stability and use my authority to build and ‘take care’ of whatever may be the problem or need.
Third, our God is a persistent and powerful Father (Psa.18:30a) He is faithful, never flippantly changing, so we can always count on him (2Tim.2:13; Jas.1:17). His unconditionally acceptance of us just as we are, matches his capacity to handle any threatening situation. An angel reminded us humans: ‘With God nothing is impossible’ (Lk.1:37). This truth creates self-worth and builds confidence. I fondly recollect when my kids really believed I could do anything. They would bring broken toys saying ‘Give it to dad he’ll fix it!’
Undoubtedly, as earthly fathers sooner than later we fall far short of our kids expectations. But let us continually equip and provide that godly environment and enablement that help our children cope with life’s demands. Some day, may they testify that their success to a small extent was because ‘father’ was lovingly ‘there’ to genuinely care and share his life with us.