Tuesday, March 10, 2015
What Fatherhood really looks like
Time Magazine ran this cover theme over 20 years ago. We still get hung up on bad fatherhood (so many examples) and misunderstand good fatherhood ( so much sociology debate about what is good) until we get it – revelation of what the Father of fathers is really like.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”
THE fatherhood which is God’s nature is completely bound up in this prayer, which is why it starts with these words. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” is a headline that defines the whole prayer outline.
Outline? We can and do say this as a prayer, particularly one we can say and agree together. But it has the dual intention of being a kingdom-orientated outline for how we go about praying generally. Rather than blurting out our list of requests (which God knows before we speak them) there is good process here to learn in getting our hearts right with Him. That, rather than our many words, is where the prayer transaction happens.
It is a powerful truth, made especially powerful when we come before God humbly and agree it together. As I think back over different situations over the years I have seen some arguments about this. That tells me that getting this kingdom-orientated, rather than everyone saying “This is the way I pray! is the stance that really releases God’s favour. It usually brings an attack with it at the same time!
Let me explain the fatherhood of God simply in terms of ‘Four Cs’.
1. Creator: Leave aside the rocks and rivers for a minute – God is the Father of all humanity. “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live (Acts 17:26). James speaks of Him as the “Father of all the heavenly lights (James 1:17). First the astro-physics – a very big picture, but also, us and our concerns – the small yet intimate picture.
2. Collaborator: As a human father works with us, teams up with us, shapes and empowers us as we learn, so the Father is a collaborative ruler of the universe with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. More than that, He seeks ways to involve us – needing us, requiring us to act – in His kingdom-building purposes.
3. Compassion: As well as pushing us out of our comfort zone often, because He knows that’s the only way we will grow, God is a Father of extraordinary compassion. The extent and resilience of His love and understanding defies words of description. As human father, we will go to extraordinary lengths for our children. Take that motivation and put it on another scale entirely, and God’s compassion might begin to come into focus.
4. Companion: God is for us and God is with us. Jesus showed what God is like in human form. The Bible tells us that while Jesus is fully God, He gave up, set aside, His divine nature to be born and live in the same way as us (Philippians 2:5-8). He was, of course, completely filled with the Holy Spirit. He didn’t carry baggage. He had no unresolved issues. He wasn’t compromised by sin creeping in like we are. He also had nothing to prove – which made Him an approachable friend to people whose lives were in a mess, to the proud ones who had an arrogant manner with it, even to Gentiles like Roman officers. Jesus shows us friendship which is God Father heart of companionship – with us, for us and near us.
CHECK IT OUT
- Which of these four – God the Creator, the Collaborator, the God of Compassion or the Mighty God who is also our companion – do you relate to most? And least? Why is that?
- How would you explain to another person, a newer Christian perhaps, how important it is that we “get” God as a loving Father as a key to everything else?