On this Father's Day weekend, it is a good idea to stop and reflect about fatherhood and how that institution has shaped our lives and society for good or bad. For some people Father's Day evokes a warm feeling toward their fathers as someone that was a key person in our lives for the good. For others, Father's Day may be an emotionally charged day full of conflicting and often painful memories. Over the course of my ministry, I have talked with 100's of people about the issues and challenges in their lives. This experience has led me to see that it is almost impossible to have a good start in life without a healthy relationship with your father. The vast majority of broken and hurting people I have talked to over the years often had serious issues with their fathers. Perhaps that explains why the majority of men and women in prison today grew up without a father or had a bad relationship with the one they had.
As a result, if you were to make a spiritual diagnosis of society today much of it could be connected to fatherhood issues. When you remove fathers or change their role in society you fundamentally transform people's lives for good or bad. That is exactly what has been happening during this last generation. It surely would be no exaggeration to say that fatherhood has been under a major attack for a long time now and it is getting worse all the time. Part of the reason fatherhood is under attack is as a result of our sexually confused society and the absence of any role or place for a father. Lately, it seems that fathers are sometimes not even needed anymore. Their role as providers and leaders of the family unit has been replaced by working mothers, the government welfare state and new reproductive technologies.
But as we take a deeper look at the crisis of fatherhood today, it ultimately turns out to really be an attack on the Fatherhood of God that few see. After all, the entire institution of fatherhood comes from God as a way to point to Him, a fact that many try to deny altogether. It increasingly seems that our society and even the Church is not comfortable seeing God as Father anymore. The very idea that God is connected to the masculine figure of a father seems repugnant to some. In our politically correct world, male patriarchy has become connected to bondage, oppression and evil itself. This has led many to see that removing God's Fatherhood is a key to spiritual, cultural and personal liberation. Sometimes lately, you cannot even have a civil conversation about God being our Father without someone getting upset. As a result, a healthy understanding of God as our Father is not even being discussed much anymore. This problem has led to removing God's Fatherhood from our lives and being replaced with a less personal and more generic view of God. However, once God's true identity as our Father is changed somehow you effectively remove God from society altogether.
Now if we step back and look at this issue, we see that removing God's Fatherhood is a direct attack on the Christian Faith, the family and the Gospel message itself. You see, God's eternal Fatherhood is confirmed by the fact that God has an eternal Son. God is eternally Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The doctrine of God's triune nature is bedrock Christian orthodoxy for 1700 years since the Church Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. God's existence as a Holy Trinity goes back to the very beginning in Genesis. In Genesis 1:1 God reveals Himself with the Hebrew word "Elohim" that is a masculine, plural noun. The word Elohim reveals God to be a plurality of three Persons and yet one God. So, once you remove God's Fatherhood, you also remove God's Sonship in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. You also end up attacking human fathers, boys, the family unit and even the message of the Gospel. The very heart of the Gospel message says in John 3:16-17,
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
The moment God the Father stops being God the Father is the moment that work of salvation through God the Son on the cross ends and there is no redemption for us as offered in John 3:16. If that happens, life is meaningless because we have no Father, no Savior and we are dead in our sins forever.
One of the greatest pictures of God's Fatherhood for us is seen in the birth of every child. Every child is created by a human father and mother. And yet, a father's role in creation is ultimately removed by physical separation from a mother's role of giving birth. Fathers are not even required to be at their children's birth. Sometimes through their physical absence, fathers can be thousands of miles away when their children are born. You might say fatherhood can be a distant institution. In a similar way, when the Lord Jesus Christ suffered, bled and died on the cross, His Father was not on the cross with Him, but looking upon His sacrifice. Our Lord's Father was away from His suffering and redemption work, just as human fathers do not share in the suffering and role of their children's mothers. These connections between God and our humanity, between human fathers and our Father in heaven are direct and clear. This fact alone should not only help reinforce human fathers as reflections of God the Father, but also serve to strengthen the whole theology of the family as a reflection of God Himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This pattern of human fathers sometimes being separated from their children's birth can sadly continue in other more hurtful ways. Many children end up being abandoned by their human fathers or even abused. Some children even end up never knowing who their real father was or is. These deep scars and losses can cause some children to spend their lives trying to find a father figure. Multitudes of young people and even adults today are looking for a father. That pain is reflected all through our society in ways no one can measure or even understand unless you have experienced it personally.
The wonderful news of Father's Day is that we have a glorious Father that exceeds our greatest expectations for a loving, caring and available Father we were designed for and always wanted. To let us know about this Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, the True Son, came into this world to let us know we could be adopted by our Father in heaven and join His forever family. This glorious truth of an adoptive Father is what we call the Gospel. The Apostle Paul spoke of our Father's adoptive love in Romans 8:15 where he tells us,
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father.
The core message of the Christian Faith is that God is our Father. God is our Father and has adopted us into His family to join His Son forever. When we know God is our Father we are changed. When we know God is our Father we can begin to understand for the first time the entire meaning of fatherhood and how it is to be reflected in our lives and society. Without this fatherly love of God everything falls apart sooner or later, just as we are seeing in our world today.
On this Father's Day weekend, we have great hope for our future that whatever our relationship with our earthly father might have been, God wants us to know Him as our Heavenly Father. That is why Jesus came into this world, to let the world know that His Father could be their father by His grace. To know God is your Father and to have that confidence in our lives is the greatest gift we could ever have. So, no matter what your father experiences might have been, the wonder of heaven and our future life is that every day is Father's Day. May our Heavenly Father help everyone to find Him as the Father they always wanted, but perhaps never even knew existed. That glorious discovery is truly Good News.