We recently celebrated Father’s Day. All the Believers that went to church on Father’s Day undoubtedly heard some reference to God being our heavenly father. There is good reason for that. The Bible makes it clear that we are to look at God in that way. It’s no surprise that Jesus, the Son of God, referred to him almost exclusively as Father. However, that relational term was never limited to his use. When he instructed others on how they should speak to God, he recited what we now refer to as the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). The first part of that prayer is an acknowledgement of God as our father. Again, for Believers, that connection shouldn’t be hard to see. We understand that God is supposed to be at the head of our lives just as the Bible says the father is supposed to be the head of the family (Ephesians 5:23). God provided commandments for our betterment just like the Bible says fathers set the rules that are intended to set the children on the right path (Ephesians 6:4). When those commandments are broken God will correct out of love, just as the Bible says a father is expected to be the primary disciplinarian (Proverbs 13:24). The parallels go on and on, and that’s no accident. The writers of the Bible purposefully gave us verses that detail what a father should be, and that role is supposed to be largely reflective of the role God plays for us.
For nonbelievers, God as a father might not be easy to see. From their standpoint, even if God does exist, he doesn’t make himself visible to us in an obvious way. To them, at best, he is an absentee father. How can one believe in a father they can’t see, hear, or touch? Truthfully, we see that every day in the natural world. Many of us for some reason or another are forced into a position where we aren’t able to interact in a direct way with our earthly fathers either. Maybe work has taken the father away. Maybe that father has fallen on hard times and isn’t able to be present as desired. Maybe that father has passed on and can no longer be a physical presence in the lives of his children. The severing of the bond between father and child is particularly final in that last example, at least from an earthly standpoint. Still, even in that case, the children are able to hold their fathers in their hearts. Those men may no longer be present, but for good fathers, the remnants of their love and dedication to their children should be everywhere. They live on in the memories created, the lessons taught, and the paths opened up for their children.
The same is true for God. Although, we don’t see Him, he’s right there providing for us. We may not hear Him, but he still managed to provide instructions for us on how to live the right way. We can’t touch Him, but he’s still able to carry us and provide support just when we need it most. God may not be here with us in the physical, but just as with an earthly father that has passed on, if we look around in our lives, we can easily see the signs of his presence and love. Still, there is no question that belief in our heavenly father requires faith. Otherwise, we may not be able to see those signs.
Is that really so different from how we deal with our earthly fathers? Of course, we need no faith to acknowledge the physical existence of our earthly fathers. Even in the case of so-called “deadbeat daddies,” the children are confident their fathers exist even if they’ve never met those fathers. That is different than the dynamic that exists between ourselves and God. Still, we put a lot of faith in our earthly fathers. We believe they will always be there for us. We believe they will love and support us no matter what. We believe they will make the right decisions when it comes to our lives, particularly when we are children. We believe all of that even knowing that our earthly fathers are fallible, and we’ve see them fall short. Fatherhood is difficult, and we understand that enough to allow for the shortcomings of our earthly fathers, as we should. That is an act of faith. If we can give such faith to people that we know can fall short, we should be able to extend some of that faith to a father that will never fail and won’t just be there to guide us in this life but into the next one as well.
The willingness to sacrifice for his children is perhaps the most important trait of a good father. God sent Jesus, his very own earthly image, to this world to live amongst us, suffer for us, die for us, and take on all of our sin into himself. If that’s not sacrifice, what is? Every Believer wants a closer relationship with God. We acknowledge Him as our risen Lord and Master, as we should, but if we only think of Him in those terms, then we may be robbing ourselves. He wants a more personal and intimate relationship with us, the kind like what only exists between parent and child. We can all have that kind of relationship with Him when we realize that before everything else, He is our father.