© 2008 by Deidre Campbell-Jones
JUNE Theme: Fathers
E. Father: Matthew 5:48
H. Father: Matthew 7:11
So often though, we treat God either the way we think He will treat us, or in the way we think our earthly fathers treat us. We are reluctant to pray, and reluctant to ask for anything because we’ve already assumed the answer. If we are used to a harsh father who never freely gives us anything, we may automatically expect our Heavenly Father to react the same. If we’re used to a father who requires we work for everything, we’ll feel we have to work for our blessings from God. And if we feel undeserving of anything from our earthly father, we may not even ask of anything from our Heavenly Father.
But God’s love towards us is far beyond how our own fathers might treat us. In fact, it is more like (and actually far surpasses) the way in which we would (or think we would, or would want to) treat our own child. In fact, Matthew 5:48: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” is an example of how to be the kind of parent God wants us to be – and not to be the kind of parent we think He is to us.
But for many of us, our acceptance of God or our relationship with God is based upon our relationship with our father. Again, we relate to God through the filter of how we relate to our earthly relationships. And when we are given the concept of our Father in heaven, we have no choice but to consciously or subconsciously compare that to what we know about earthly fathers in general or our own father specifically.
And it most certainly is not that God treats us in the same manner that our own fathers do that we misunderstand what he is to be to us, but instead it is because we treat God as if He will treat us the way we expect our earthly fathers to.
Some fathers try to buy their children’s love. Some children grow up thinking God is a magical genie – the end all be all and ultimate giver of heavenly blessings and material gifts. They go to God always wanting, always expecting always asking… for things. And when God doesn’t deliver, it is an instant sign that God doesn’t love them, or God doesn’t exist.
Of course, some fathers are absent, disconnected or negligent. And some children grow up to be adults who are sure there is no God. And if there is – that God is not thinking about them as an individual. They are sure they will have no prayers answered and quite possibly that God won’t even hear them. Somehow they are unworthy of forgiveness, unworthy of a relationship with a heavenly Father and unworthy or undeserving of His love.
Some fathers are only good for play time. They are practical jokers, good buddies and fair weather friends. And some children grow into adulthood and cannot take the concept of a heavenly father seriously. Come on – you must be kidding. There is no God that is going to listen to my problems, share in my grief and sorrow, wipe my tears away and care for my burdens that I cast upon Him. Instead, God is an ever present spirit – a light and ethereal being and creator of wonderful things like sunshine and puppies who is no more potent, powerful or real than a fairy in a nursery rhyme.
Some fathers are strict disciplinarians who cannot show love but only show correction and even disappointment or dissatisfaction. They rule with an iron fist and can barely crack a smile. Some children grow up to be adults who treat God as if He’s only comparing them to a heavenly list of “rights and wrongs”. They feel as if they’ll never measure up to what God expects of them. The concept of a loving, affectionate father in heaven is foreign, even impossible to conceive of, let alone accept. They feel unworthy, inept, dirty and too shameful to come to God. And unfortunately most Christians don’t help. Far too often it is easier to point out the sin of a sinner instead of just loving a person in spite of their sins and our own.
No one can come to a God whom they think is only going to condemn them to hell. And so they will not come at all – they will not ask for anything, they will not trust in a heavenly father and quite possibly out of rebellion they will not submit to a heavenly father.
And still other fathers are kind and caring, affectionate and giving – they discipline with love and love very nearly unconditionally. And some children grow up to be adults who are not afraid to go to God with their problems and they can trust a God that promises to see them through. They can take their chastisement for their growth and their unconditional love with gratitude, thanksgiving and praise.
No matter what kind of Earthly father we’ve had, this is the kind of Heavenly Father we have and should get to know. He wants us to know Him for who he really is and not who we think He is or make Him out to be – according to what is comfortable for us. God is love and therefore God’s love is perfect.
Matthew 7:11: “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?”
Whatever we are seeking in a Heavenly Father, God will not let us down – in fact, He will surpass our every desire. But He cannot do that so long as we assume His character, motivations and determine the quality of the gifts He gives. And the only way to keep from making those assumptions is to get to know the Father for yourself.
That means study, prayer and meditation. Studying the word of God let’s us know who God is and what kind of relationship He wants to have with us, but our relationship is not with the book or the pages therein. Our relationship must be built the same as any other Earthly relationship – through communication and time.
Most everyone who has had a good relationship with their Earthly fathers will say they did because of the quality time they spent together, the things their fathers taught them and the conversations they shared. The relationship was mutually beneficial and enjoyable. So should be our relationship with God the Father. And prayer is our only form of communicating with Him. It is the way we talk to Him.
Unfortunately, many of us do not bother to find out if He is listening. I know I didn’t. For the longest time I thought meditation was some Eastern religious practice and taboo for Christians. Joshua1:8 says, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” In other words, we can’t just talk about what God will do for us and the promises of His word, we must meditate on the Word, and when we do, God will speak to us. That is how we build a tow-way communication with God. That is how we build a mutually beneficial and enjoyable relationship with our Heavenly Father.
As Father’s Day approaches, consider spending time to build and strengthen the relationship with your Earthly Father and your Heavenly Father too.
Note: Portions of this study were taken from my book: Father, Brother, Lover, Friend: Finding “The One” to be released June 15, 2009 (God willing!)
Wishing you all power, love & peace! (2 Timothy 1:7)