(This is a repost from last Father’s Day.)
Few things are as heartrending as a father who betrays the trust of his children. Stories about children who have been physically and sexually abused are tragic. When the abuser is the child’s own father or a father figure, the reports are even more appalling. Yet these crimes are becoming horribly commonplace.
Even more heartbreaking is the knowledge that those who have been betrayed by their earthly fathers often go on to reject their heavenly Father. They find it painful to relate to any father figure, including God.
But God isn’t just another imperfect father figure. He’s not a deadbeat dad, a philandering papa, or an absentee parent. He is the perfect, holy creator of the universe. He is faithful, righteous, and just. He is always present, loving, and merciful.
Yet the failure of earthly fathers has led to a dismaying movement in our society: the denial of the fatherhood of God. This growing movement to deny God as Father permeates our society with dangerous results. If He is not our Father, then we are not accountable to Him. If we’re not accountable to Him, then sin is not a problem. And if sin is not a problem, then we do not need a Savior. The consequences of this rationale are more than terrible – they are eternal.
God is not restricted by human sexuality, but He has chosen to reveal Himself in His Word through male images. He described Himself as both the Father of the nation of Israel (Hosea 11:1) and our Father (Matthew 6:9). He sent His Son, the second person of the Trinity to show us the Father (John 14:9).
For some, earthly fathers have been a blessing – a living picture of the relationship our heavenly Father wants to have with us. For others, earthly fathers may have been a source of harm. Perhaps you are a father who has betrayed his children. Maybe you are a wife who wishes her husband would be a better father. No matter what our family circumstances, good or bad, we must be careful not to allow the failures of imperfect, earthly fathers to taint our view of our perfect heavenly Father.
The parent-child relationship we have with God begins with our relationship with Jesus Christ. John 1:12 tells us, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” We cannot become a child of God, with the privilege of calling Him Father, without believing in His Son, Jesus.
Once we call God Father, the more intimate our relationship with the Lord, the easier it is for us to trust His character and His ways. Our heavenly Father may allow circumstances that will be painful in the short term, but although they may hurt, they will never harm us. The God of creation is also our Savior and Redeemer. He is always working for our ultimate good and for His glory.
Whether we are teaching our own children, volunteering at church, or influencing those around us in a variety of other ways, let’s be sure to affirm God as our perfect Father. Regardless of positive or negative experiences with earthly fathers, begin by celebrating the greatness of our heavenly Father this Father’s Day.
How has your relationship with your earthly father affected your relationship with your heavenly Father?