Sunday was Fathers’ Day and in the midst of all the celebrations, I spent some time reflecting on how God calls us Himself our father.
It is powerful imagery.
I’m lucky: I have a great dad who pointed me to Christ at an early age. He is an incredibly Godly man and I’m proud to be his daughter.
Not everyone is so blessed. I know: I’m a foster parent. Part of the reason I’m doing this is because I have a great dad and we want to step up and be that safe place for a child whose world is in chaos.
Some dads just don’t know what to do with their kids, maybe lacking fatherly role models themselves. Some dads, well… There is a reason the term dead-beat dad exists. Or worse.
There is a tremendous loss and righteous indignation that kids have when they don’t have a good dad. It’s completely understandable, justifiable even. It is a profound break from the example of God when He calls Himself our father.
It bothers me that a lot of people only have a picture of a mean, vengeful, and fun-stealing god. This isn’t God; scripture paints an entirely different picture.
God is compassionate. He is also just. Sometimes, people assume that His justice means that He must punish all sin and therefore He can’t be kind. It is a false dichotomy since it was through His compassion that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die and accept the punishment for our sin.
His character is such that He won’t sacrifice one of His amazingly good attributes to satiate another attribute. He is the picture of unimaginable stability we crave in a father and in the world. He was, and is, and will be. We don’t need to worry about Him changing and leaving us out to dry.
He is always with us (Psalms 46:1-3) and we can count on Him. Isn’t that what we look for in a dad: someone we can go to when we are in trouble? Time and time again, despite the pain that people have walked through, He has been there. Pain is a great teacher and as much as we might may not like it, He uses it for good (to read more on this topic click here).
He listens to us. God always hears our prayers (Psalm 116:1). So many people just want to feel understood. God understands.
What has particularly interested me, though, about these characteristics is that in our culture, these typically aren’t masculine traits. They are feminine. The strength, justice, truth, and leadership that is characteristic of God is what we more often associate with being masculine. It is the combination of all of these characteristics that make a good parent; we can’ leave any part out.
This is why the character of God matters. Why theology matters. If we don’t begin to just scratch the surface (I haven’t even nicked it- just rubbed a few smudges around on it is more like it), we lose the chance to see what kind of example is set for us in parenthood, relationships, and Godly personhood.
It is the reason that someone who is actively striving to be the person God made them to be is going to have an easier time with the task of parenting than someone who has thrown all these principles into the wind and is living according to their own selfish standards. Parenting isn’t really about parenting. It’s about being who we are meant to be: unselfish, compassionate, just, strong, and truthful. It’s why the phrase “do what I say and not what I do” has so little impact- at least positively!
Even for the people who haven’t had the example that I’ve had, we are all still blessed: we have God. He is our example of what we were made to be. It is more than just playing with kids, cards, and cookouts. Fathers’ Day should be a celebration of character regardless of whether or not it is really exemplified in those around us. Fathers’ Day should move and inspire us to be the people we were meant to be: like our Heavenly Father.