I’m doing some initial preparation for a talk on the Fatherhood of God and what that means for us and I decided to come at it by brainstorming all the things which i think are relevant to God as Father. In no particular order, here they are:
- Provision, care, looking after his children. The sparrows and the lilies in the Sermon on the Mount spring to mind here (Matt 6:25-33)
- God’s patience, mercy and continual forgiveness, no matter how many times we mess up.
- Children inherit the family likeness of their father’s and mothers. As we are made in God’s image, so you would hope that Christians exhibit a family likeness from their Heavenly Father.
- Fathers should be committed and loyal to their family. Surely God’s covenant and loyalty is related to his Fatherhood.
- The Hebrew word hesed, found in the Psalms (and in Ruth among other places) doesn’t have an adequate English translation. The closest we can come is loving-kindness, continental loyalty and faithfulness.
- Love. A good Father is loving.
- God’s closeness and intimacy. Jesus tells us to pray, ‘Our Father’. Paul (in Romans and Galatians) says we, in our imperfections have been adopted and can now approach God as Abba, a familiar Aramaic word for father not unlike ‘Daddy’. Jesus uses this same word in the Garden of Gethsemane.
- Justice and Discipline. A father is one who sets the tone of discipline in a family. God does this but within a context of love, mercy, redemption and forgiveness.
- It is not that God is a bit like a Father, as we all have imperfect fathers, but God is our perfect Heavenly Father who sets the bar for Fatherly attributes.
It’s worth noting that many of us may have had bad experiences of an earthly father who was abusive, inept, or absent and this can colour our thinking of God as Father. Also, what happens when bad things happen – does this mean the Father has let us down? I wrote some thoughts on Job which might be relevant here.
Of course, I also thought of the 400m runner Derek Redmond at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona (video below). Four years earlier in Seoul 1988 he has been forced to withdraw 10 minutes before his heat, due to injury. In Barcelona injury struck again, with his hamstring going about halfway round the course. He collapsed but got back up, limping on, determined to cross the line. From the crowd, a man ran onto the track who picked him up and supported him to the finish. The man turned out to be Redmond’s father.
What would add to the above? What part of God being Father most speaks to you?