Yesterday morning Americans celebrated Father’s Day, a holiday that was officially established in 1924 by President Coolidge. Like many churches, we took time to honor and celebrate the gift that our fathers are to us, not because our culture dictates it, but because fatherhood is a biblical role that God esteems.
Many of us are blessed to have had dads who excelled in giving us encouragement, direction, care, and counsel. They weren’t perfect, of course, but we never doubted their love. Father’s Day is simply one more opportunity to express our gratefulness for the way they’ve laid down their lives to serve us in countless ways.
But how do you approach Father’s Day if the very word “father” stirs up memories of tension, abandonment, abuse, or apathy? What if your every thought, word, and decision seems to be shadowed by the scars of a painful upbringing? What if you’re a single mom, feeling like you can only give your children half a home, because their father chose to serve himself rather than his family?
Situations like these are tragic and always involve disobedience to God’s commands. But right perspective on fathers begins by remembering that fatherhood is defined not by earthly examples, but by God Himself. Paul prays in Ephesians:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. (Eph. 3:14-15)
For the believer, the glorious news of the Gospel is this: through the work of Jesus and God’s Spirit we have entered into a relationship with a Father who is infinitely better than any earthly father could ever be.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15)
Whether the father we think of is our own, or one we are married to, he is only the faintest image of the God Who is our true Father. Our heavenly Father knows every hair on our head, anticipates our needs even before we ask, gives us every good and perfect gift, has chosen us and dearly loves us, and disciplines us so that we might become like His Son (Lk. 12:7; Mt. 6:8; Jm. 1:17; Col. 3:12; Heb. 12:10).
Most importantly, our eternal Father has sent His precious Son to bear the punishment for our sins in our place so that we might be enjoy pleasures at His right hand forevermore. As we consider what kind of Father cares for us now, we are enabled to look at fatherhood from a different perspective. We realize no earthly father will ever accurately or completely represent our heavenly Father. We understand that our heavenly Father sovereignly ordained our earthly father for His own glory and for our own ultimate good, so we can thank Him for the father He chose to give us. We recognize that our divine Father can redeem even the greatest sins of any earthly father, and offer hope for lasting change and forgiveness.
May you be affected, not only on Father’s Day, but every day, by the Father’s costly love for you in giving up His Son for your salvation.