It’s Father’s Day around the globe and people would pay homage to their fathers today. I would like to use this brief opportunity to give my father a praise that he deserves. My father taught me the practicalities of life. Without his labor and discipline, I might not be where I am today. He might not be perfect, just as I am not a perfect son, but he’s all that I need and will ever need. If the LORD wills, I hope to be like him – a father with hits and misses; nevertheless, a good father indeed. I thank God for him.
This Lord’s Day, we should give the honour ultimately to our heavenly Father. The Bible expressly and commonly speaks of God as our “Father.” In the Old Testament, God is a father to the Israelite nation (Deuteronomy 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Jeremiah 31:9; Isaiah 64:8; Proverbs 3:11-12; etc.). He called them His children (Exodus 4:22, 23; Deuteronomy 1:31; Hosea 11:1; Psalm 103:13; etc.). The New Testament addressed God the same way in many occasions; too many that it would take another blogpost to cite all of them. In this way, God reveals Himself in a language that we could understand, that is, in relation to us. He came down to our level and communicated to us in a way we can comprehend, like a father talking to his infant child. If our earthly fathers reflect our heavenly Father, then how great a loving Father our God is, for the original is way better than the copies. And, if our words only correspond to how our minds could conceive reality as God accommodates to us, how great a Father our God is in all His perfection!
In order to show this truth, I will use some analogy drawn from the life of my father.
When my father got laid off as a worker from a manufacturing company, he bought a tricycle from his post-employment benefit fund. My father worked day by day to ensure that our needs would be attended for. How much more is our heavenly Father! He knows and provides everything that we need as His children, both physically and spiritually (Matthew 6:31-33). “Those who seek the LORD lack no good thing” (Psalm 34:10). Our Lord Jesus Christ reassures us: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:25-27). Since God is our Father, we will be content with what we have and confident that our needs will be satisfied because we know that it is our Father in heaven who provides. A brother of mine posted recently in Facebook this chunk of gold: we possess everything because we belong to Christ who belongs to God (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). Whatever He provides us we should use for His glory and for the care of our brothers and sisters in the faith.
During my student years (up until I found a job), my father became proud of me whenever I achieved something good. He always speaks well of me in front of his peers and relatives. He is very pleased with me. How much more is our heavenly Father! To borrow from a popular line from Timothy Keller: “because I am in Christ, the Son in whom the Father is well pleased, I am now a son in whom the Father is also well pleased.” This stops me from seeking validation—and even redemption out of my created idol—from other people’s impressions. Why would I enslave myself under the spell of others’ approval if the Heavenly Father already smiles upon me as one of His beloved sons because of His beloved Son?
Back when I was a child, my father fashioned a walking crib out of rattan wood and attached wheels to it so that I could learn to walk. I could also remember when I received a failing grade in college. He was disappointed at first but he understood and hoped that things would eventually turn out good. A father will not disown his own. From the very beginning up until now, he supports me in every step of the way. How much more is our heavenly Father! Because of God’s work without and within us, we may freely and humbly walk with Him. In our walk in this valley, we might stumble in many times and in many ways, but God will lead us by the hand like a father to his child. Even if we fail, He remains faithful. We already received the verdict in Christ, and because of His Son, God is our merciful Father. “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14). And, He is there to support and strengthen us with His grace “for He has said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, the Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6). There will be times when the Father will discipline us but He does so because He loves us and wants us to share in His holiness (1 Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12:5-11).
All of these benefits we enjoy only because of Christ. It was sin that stripped us from the loving communion of God and made us children of wrath. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:3-5). In Christ, we are adopted as sons and daughters; His Father became our Father. And, by being united with Him, we receive all the love that the Father has for the Son. Because of Christ, we are made heirs to the inheritance; it is has been sealed to us by the Holy Spirit, our guarantee. The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are, indeed, children of God (Romans 8:15). See what all of that means! “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1).
This is our identity. We should be fully conscious of our identity. We are sons and daughters of God. Once, we belonged to the family of the devil. We were sons and daughters of disobedience. But now, we are transferred to the family of God, so we should live as sons and daughters being conformed to the image of His Son. We are now sons and daughters, just think of that! We are admitted to the presence of the Father because we are reconciled to Him through Christ. The throne is no longer veiled to us and we have an access to the Father. In times of distress and sorrow, we can cry for deliverance. We can pour out our hearts to the Father who listens. We can cast all of our anxieties to Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Our response to these truths is to admit our total dependence to God like a child who relies entirely to his father. And since we are adopted into His family, we should care for the Father’s house. We should look out for the needs of our brothers and sisters in the faith. Share in their joys and sorrows. Care for them as if they are your blood kin. Finally, just as we aspire to be like our fathers, we should strive to be like our Father as He leads us to the path of holiness (Galatians 4; 1 Peter 1: 14-16; 1 John 3).