FATHERHOOD IN THE HEART OF GOD
To God be the glory for giving us a family to which we can identify with. Everyone born of a woman belongs to a family. It is a special grace and priviledge when one is lucky to enjoy a Christian family set up. Today, the whole world is celebrating and appreciating roles fathers play in the family.
God the father is the perfect example for all earthly fathers especially Christian fathers. He is holy, just and fair to all. His most outstanding quality is LOVE. “Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love” ( IJohn 4:18). God’s love motivates everything He does. Through His covenant with Abraham, He chose the Jews as His people, He nurtured and protected them, despite their frequent disobedience. He kept His covenant and treated them so tenderly. In His greatest act of love, God the father sent His only son to be the perfect sacrifice for the sin of all humanity, Jews and Gentiles alike. God as a father according to the scripture generate things. All things originate from Him and flow from Him likewise, the Christian father is the head of the family. He is suppose to be the supplier, every need of the family originate and flow from him. He must be ready to sacrifice anything no matter how dear for the sake of fulfilling his biblical roles to the family, just as God is the source of all things who sent both His son (John 3:16-17) and His spirit (Holy Spirit) (John 14:26) into the world. He is always ready to provide for his children. In Psalm 81:10 He says “open wide your mouth and l will fill it” i.e. Ask what you need, l will give it to you. I see Jeremiah 33:3 as a direct telephone number to God is direct line as a father “which says “call on me and l will answer you and l will tell you great and mighty things which you do not know. The implication of the above for the earthly fathers is that we should as much as possible respond to the need of our children, give them accessibility to our presence. When they ask (for it is their right) it is our responsibility to provide. If the ability is not there, let them know and be convinced. Anytime they call on you for anything even when you feel inadequate, still listen to them, take time to answer their request. Some Christian fathers have regular meetings with their families where questions are freely asked and answered. Fathers should not be so hostile or unapproachable by their children, fathers are to demonstrate love, establish it and nourish it among his children. He is to coordinate whatever wants to should happen in his family.
I remember when the disciples of Jesus came to Him requesting that He should teach them how to pray, He started with a simple statement describing who God is, “Our father” it shows that whenever we say “the Lord’s prayer’ we are not praying alone, its not a private prayer. “Our” means that God has other children, others are also concerned about this God and they all have needs. God is with a large family with a common heritage and shared value. A family created by the new birth and made possible by the shedding of the blood of Jesus. Only those who can call Him “father” are His Gal.3:26 “for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Secondly, when you call “our father in heaven” what you are saying in other words is a father who cares, who knows, who understand and He who heers. Acts 17:25 says “In Him, we live and move and have our being”. He gave all things to men. He rules over us in His love, yet, His authority of the father who showed love and rules with tender heart.
The story in Luke 15:11-33 shows clearly the tender heart of our father in heaven which He communicate to us today. It is about the story of the prodigal son, who despite his wastefulness still enjoyed favour from his father. The following passages explained the expectation of God from a Christian father Psalm 103:13-18; Matt.7:7-11; l Thess 2:11-12; Heb. 12:4-11. God also wants you as his child to pour out your heart to Him. No wonder He says in Matt.7:7-11 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him”
From Luke 12:30-32, we have the record of the responsibilities of God as the father that set examples for the earthly fathers verse 30 says “knoweth that yee have needs of these things” The verb “Have need” is in a tense that means, our needs are many and they are constant”. Fathers, those who surround you as children have many needs. As God’s children, we have needs of which some are constant. Our heavenly father is aware of every one of them. Nothing happens in our lives that is unnoticed by our father verse 24, 26 & 28 “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Fathers have to study and know everything about their children. Where correction is needed, he should not hesitate. Where rebuke is appropriate things to do, he should not delay, for that is the character of God. Another thing about God the father is that everything that happens to any of His children is part of His plan (Rom. 8:28), Job 23:10 confirm this when he says “But He (God) knows the way that l take: when He has tested me, l shall come forth as gold”. Every test of a father to his children must be to bring better things out of them. Read Psalm 139:1-2.
If God can keep Noah safe throughout the flood, fed Elijah with the Ravens, put meal in the barrel, oil in the cruse, life restored to the widow’s son, kept the three Hebrew boys safe in the furnace, secured Daniel in the Lion’s den; fed Israel with manna and quail in the wilderness for 40 years; slay Goliat for David, take care of the disciples in the storm; parted the Red Sea for Moses; Raised Lazarus from the dead; fed the five thousand and many other numerous miracles that kept God’s children in Old Testament alive. The same God is able to take care of you. Eph. 3:20; Matt 28:18; Jer. 32:17, 27; Rom.4:21. A good father must therefore be able to secure his children, protect them from danger and lead them in the way of salvation where God can take over for their miracles.
God is always available, lf He is a God that is far removed from His children, then is not worth being called a “loving father” because only His power without accessibility will do us no good. He must be available from Luke 12:32. We are told that it is the “Father’s means “to choose, to determine, to be ready, to do that which seems good”. It also means “He has made Himself available to us His children. (Matt. 11:28; Heb.13:5; Matt.28:20). Are you always available to your wife and children or too busy doing other things to the detriment of your family? Some fathers pursue money so much that hardly will any of his children see him at day time. Some because of certain problems, abandoned their home for alcohol, adultery or “enjoyments”. Some are so hostile that they are unapproachable, He is so terrified that instead of his children loving him, they fear him for his display of wickedness and indiscipline.
Before l end this message, it is appropriate that l advise the children to always be faithful to their fathers. The bible says in Luke 12:29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have anxious mind” it means, don’t be doubtful of your father, it was a term used to describe a ship that was being tossed about upon the stormy sea. Jesus is here saying “Children of God, do not allow your mind to be tossed up and down by the waves of worry, doubt and fear. “Fear not” Learn to trust God, trust your earthly father also regardless of circumstances, never count your father out. Learn to trust in God’s power that can manifest in every situation. The following passages will further assist you in your responsibilities to your father. (Mark 11:22 & 23; 9:23; Psalm 62:8). The bible say in Rom. 10:11 that God will never allow you to be put to shame for God remains faithful even when we fail or ignore Him. 2 Timothy 2:13 says “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself”.
To be a father is a gift and priviledge, it must not be abused for it is with responsibilities that is patterned after the fatherhood of God. Every father must know that they will account for their actions and inactions over the children God has given them.
May God grant all the fathers the grace to play their God given roles well for them to receive “well done faithful servant” at the end of their race here on earth.
The Rt. Revd. Dr. J. Akin Atere
The Bishop, Diocese of Awori