Fatherhood of God

 

Today is Father’s Day.  It should be a day of celebration, more often though it is a day of lament.

 

Hallmark, the greeting card company hit on an idea of giving inmates in prisons cards to send to their mothers on mother’s day.  Most prisoners took them so they did the same on father’s day for dads.  Few were interested.

 

Someone else reported that when he worked for a phone company, Mother's Day was the busiest calling day of the year. Busier than Christmas. Father's Day was like any other day.[1]

 

A sad indictment on fatherhood or the lack of it. The statistics of the effect of this is shocking:

 

About 40 percent of children in the western world go to sleep every night in homes in which their fathers do not live. Before they reach the age of eighteen, more than half of children are likely to spend at least a significant portion of their childhoods living apart from their fathers.[2] 

 

Fathers Day is a day of lament because fathers have not stepped up to the plate as far as parenthood goes and the cost is huge.

 

Children raised in a father absent environment demonstrate
1. 5 times the average suicide rate:
2. Dramatically increased rates of depression and anxiety:
3. 32 times the average rate of imprisonment:
85 per cent of youth in prison have an absent father
4. Decreased education levels and increased drop-out rates:
71 per cent of high school dropouts are fatherless
5. Consistently lower average income levels:
6. Lower job security:
7. Increased rates of divorce and relationship issues
8. Substantially increased rates of substance abuse: and
9. Increases in social and mental behavioural issues:
90 per cent of runaway children have an absent father[3]

 

Even in the Bible, fathers do not have a good rap, because in many cases they, even then, had not done a great job. 

Favouritism (think of Joseph being chosen above his brother),

Or the opposite, of David not even being invited when the prophet Samuel asked to see the kids to choose the next king – he was left in the fields.

Or getting a woman pregnant after sex outside marriage – Judah in relation to Tamar

Or of the same Judah passing a death sentence judgement on Tamar when she was pregnant and before he knew the baby was the result of his incest,

Or drunkenness like Noah which resulted in a curse on his son Ham,

Or of Abraham kicking his concubine Hagar and his child Ishmael out of the family home.

 

These are just some of the atrocious examples of earthly fatherhood in the Bible, but they are just the tip of the iceberg.  I am sure you can think of many others.

 

So today I am not going to focus on human fatherhood which is a mess, but want to focus on the fatherhood of God.

 

The human mirror of fatherhood is cracked and its images of God’s character are blurred, distorted, and vastly incomplete.[4]

 

And the worst thing that we do with our human father model is to reflect that model on to our Father in heaven.  Instead of looking at God to see what a father should be like, we look at our fathers and use that to decide what God is like.

 

We unconsciously tend to attach the feelings and impressions that we have of our own earthly father to our concept of heavenly father. Good experiences bring us closer to knowing and understanding God, but bad experiences create distorted pictures of our father’s love for us.[5] And it seems that bad experiences are becoming the norm.

 

Much work that has to be done in Christian healing courses like Living Waters and Sozo relates to repairing the damage caused by that negligent or abusive father image in our lives and separating the earthly and heavenly pictures from each other.

 

Look at this picture and tell me how Michelangelo saw his dad… Judgemental, scowling…

 

The essence of fatherhood is found not in human but in divine fatherhood,[6] not the other way round.

 

Unlike natural fatherhood, spiritual fatherhood has nothing to do with power or control. It is a fatherhood of compassion[7]

 

The fatherhood of God emphasizes God’s provision for His children

 

Matt. 6:32

32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

 

Luke 11:13

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

 

The fatherhood of God emphasises his care for his children

 

Deuteronomy 1:31 for example:

31 and in the wilderness, where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as one carries a child, all the way that you traveled until you reached this place.

 

And even if our natural father has dropped the ball, our heavenly father has not.

 

Isaiah 63:16

            For you are our father, though Abraham [our father] does not know us and Israel [our grafted father] does not acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our father; our Redeemer from of old is your name.

 

I love this verse. It doesn’t matter that our earthly father does not know us or that he does not acknowledge our presence, the one who counts, our heavenly father, knows us and loves us.

 

Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son to show the heart of God for the lost son.

Luke 15:20 And [the son] arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

 

It is in this parable that we can know God for who he really is, not what we think he is. He is the perfect father.

 

We are the lost son/daughter.  God is the father who gives his wayward son everything. God is our father who watches everyday for our return. God is our father who does that most undignified thing of running to meet us.  God is the one who does not lecture us on our waywardness but kills the fatted calf to celebrate our return.

 

He always disciplines in love. He is faithful, generous, kind and just. He loves you, and he longs to spend time with you. He wants you to receive his love and know that you are a special and unique person to him.[8]

 

I want us to spend some time, thinking on who God is as father to you.  I will run some paintings of the father in the Prodigal Son during this time.  You may want to respond in prayer, or coming as the Prodigal son himself did and kneeling before his father (at the cross)

 

At the end I will say a prayer, which you may want to repeat as I say it:

“We acknowledge you, Father, to be the committed and tender One. We come to you seeking the depth of Your affirmation of us as your children. Envelop us with your loving, steadfast presence. By your grace, secure in us the very ground of our beings that our father was unable to confirm in us. Free us to receive Your love, as the Creator and Redeemer of our lives. Become the ground of our security as people. Free us to live out your love toward us.[9]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=415300

[3] https://thefathercode.com/the-9-devastating-effects-of-the-absent-father/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201205/father-absence-father-deficit-father-hunger

[4] George MacDonald Your Life in Christ – The Nature of God and His Work in Human Hearts.190

[5] Andy Comiskey Living Waters 255

[6] William Dembski The End of Christianity: finding a good God in an evil world 102

[7] Henri Nouwen The Return of the Prodigal Son, 127

[8] Comiskey 262

[9] Comiskey 26 modified