As I contemplate how to honor my dad this Father’s Day, I am reminded of the song about a mother written by Ray Wiley Hubbard.  It has nothing to do with Father’s Day and I am not quite sure why I am mentioning it, but the mention of it may bring an irreverent smirk to your lips.  If you do not know what I am talking about, then all the better.

I am also reminded of who a father is as we approach another Father’s Day.  Fathers are vitally important to our lives whether we recognize it or not.  Whether you had a good experience with your father, or had an unfortunately hard time growing up in a home where your father was absent or abusive, your experience with your father colors your view of God.  You cannot help it.  This is just the way things are.  God is the ideal father and earthly fathers influence our image of God.  So, the things I write next may bother and even offend you, but in order to regain a proper view of God, you will need to release your earthly father.  Forgiving your earthly father is the first step to restoring a relationship with the heavenly Father.

The ideal Father does at least three things.  He provides.  He protects and He gives purpose.  Obviously, if your earthly father failed to do any one of these things you will lack a proper understanding of the heavenly Father and will need Him to demonstrate the lacking activity directly in your life.  God desires to Father all of His creation.  His passion for you is boundless.  Paul says that the height, width, length and depth of His love cannot be measured.  He may use earthly agents to provide for you, but it is He who ultimately cares for your every need.

Fathers provide for their children because they love them.  Provision is the first sign of love.  Compassion is revealed in demonstration.  Think of the Good Samaritan.  Three men past by the beaten wretch before the stranger stopped to render aid.  The first three may have thought they loved their fellow man, but only the Samaritan demonstrated it.  Love is something you do not something you say.  God proves His love for us by providing for our every need.  If you have a problem with this because your earthly father did not provide for you or you think your heavenly Father is not providing for you properly right now, then you need to take a closer look.  No matter how independent you think you are, no man is an island.  God may use human agency, but He is the ultimate provider.  Our heavenly Father provides for us because He loves us.  If you will recognize His provision for you, then you will see His love.

Fathers also protect.  Again, you may feel like God has abandoned you because of an abusive father.  Where was God when your father beat you?  Even in the pain your heavenly Father was present, even more so because of the pain.  It is by His stripes that we are healed.  Our heavenly Father never promised to save us from pain, but He does promise to not let that pain harm us.  He did not withhold suffering from His own Son because it served His purposes.  We do not know why and may never know why, but God does protect us and will secure our souls for eternity.  Because you suffer pain in this life does not mean God has abandoned you.  On the contrary, the reverse is true.  Discipline is a sign of sonship according to Hebrews 12.  If God allows us to suffer it is because He has a greater purpose and that purpose is to make us obedient sons.  His protection of you is a demonstration of His love.  His allowing you to suffer is proof you are a son. 

Fathers provide and fathers protect.  Fathers also give purpose.  This is the main reason a father is so important in a child’s life.  Sons learn to become men and fathers by watching their father.  As with most practical education, more is caught than taught.  Sons naturally want to be like their father, talking and even walking like them.  Imitation is the primary form of learning.  We can watch our heavenly Father and learn how to be what He made us to be.  Fathers produce sons.  Sons become fathers.  A person’s specific calling is defined by the Father, but the ultimate goal is reproduction and generational transfer.  Jesus knew this fact of life at age twelve when He said that He must be about His Father’s business.  Fathers provide, protect and give purpose.  Your heavenly Father desires to demonstrate His love to you in these ways.  Look and you will most certainly see how He has and is doing this very thing

As these are the primary functions of the Father, there are three things that a son receives from the father.  First, a son receives his identity from his father.  Next, he receives an inheritance from his father; and third, a son receives His Father’s interests in order to become a mature son and eventually a father himself.

Sons are given their father’s surname.  This forever identifies them with him.  This is true of almost every culture on earth and very prominent in some.  The term “bar” in the time Jesus walked the earth means “son of.”  Many men of that day were introduced like Peter, “Simon Barjonah.”  He was Peter, also called Simon, son of Jonah.  Ben is the Arabic equivalent.  Osama Ben Laden is the son of Laden.  For better or worse we gain our identity from our father.  As we identify with the Father, we become more like Him.  His character becomes our’s.  We imitate Him and adopt His ways as we do His will.  As His word pervades our lives we became more like Him.  Believers were first called “Christians” in Antioch because they so resembled the Christ.  We will be called the sons of God as we become identified with Him and His Son.  This means identifying with Him in His life, death and resurrection!  Fathers make us who we are as they mold us into their likeness.  The key is cooperating with the Father to allow Him to make us like Him.

Sons also receive an inheritance.  As heirs, we are eligible to receive all that the Father possesses.  Our heavenly Father owns everything.  As His sons, so do we.  Please do not fall in the trap of thinking in material terms.  Earthly wealth is the least valuable part of the inheritance we receive in Christ.  Our inheritance is eternal and worth far more than houses and lands.  As sons we stand to inherit all that God has.  As His sons, we will be motivated to give it all away.  You have everything you need.  Let the Father show it to you and allow Him to shift your thinking from the material to the eternal.  Let the Father give you the mind of Christ who was willing to sacrifice even His place in heaven to accomplish the Father’s will.  He is now seated in the heavenlies with everything in this world under His feet.  One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord of all!  This is our inheritance if we will humble ourselves as He did and live a life of absolute obedient dependence on the Father.

This is why many have difficulty with accepting the Father/Son paradigm.  It demands too much.  It requires complete trust in others and total abandonment of the things of this world.  The third thing a son receives from his father is his interest.  Jesus knew at age twelve that He had to be about the things that interested His Father.  As sons we are called to the family business which is saving souls and receiving a Kingdom.  The Kingdom is our inheritance.  Many sons are God’s inheritance.  We involve ourselves in the things of God by faith demonstrated by obedience.  God demonstrates His love for us by providing and protecting us, as well as giving us His purpose for life.  We demonstrate our faith in Him by obedience.  Even if you feel empty and that you received nothing of value from your earthly father, your heavenly Father can change all that and transform you into His son.  He will provide for you.  He will protect you. He will give you purpose for living.  This is what at Father does.  Sons know this and cooperate with the Father by obeying Him and becoming His representatives on earth.

A Kingdom has come and the King is at hand.  He is within reach.  It is among us.  On this Father’s Day, as you pause to remember your dad, good or bad, receive the Father.  He is demonstrating His love for you every day by His provision, protection and purpose for your life.  I thank God that I have a great earthly father and he has faithfully portrayed the Father to me all of my life.  I know this is not true for all of us, but that can be changed and relationship with the Father restored.  There is no greater task on earth than to be a son and to know the Father.  It is a privilege and an honor to know Him.  He deserves all of our respect and devotion.  As we approach the one day each year set aside to honor fathers, let us worship our Father in heaven, praying for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.  I bless my heavenly Father.  I bless my earthly father.  I bless you as you discover sonship in a fresh way this Father’s Day.

tim