Thursday, June 17, 2021

Jesus' Father Is Our Father

Article published in the Waverly Democrat on June 17, 2021.

The Lord’s Prayer is the Christian prayer par excellence because it is the prayer that our Lord Jesus Himself taught His disciples to pray. In Luke’s Gospel, one of Jesus’ disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus replied saying, “When you pray, say, Our Father who art in heaven…” (Luke 11:2). “Our Father…”. I find those words to be remarkable, for in them Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Father, who is Himself true God and true man, invites the faithful to pray to His Father and to call His Father “our” Father with the expectation of being heard and answered just as His one and only Son. In and through Jesus, His Father has truly become our Father. Likewise, Jesus is our brother, and He shares with us everything that belongs to Him: Sonship with the Father, kingship and a reign over heaven and earth, righteousness, holiness, life that cannot die, and more. All of this is brought together in the Lord’s Prayer: Through Jesus, we have full access to God the Father, and He promises to hear and to answer whatever we ask in Jesus’ Name just as He hears and answers His Son Jesus Himself.


Of course, this prayer to our heavenly Father is on my mind presently because Father’s Day is coming up this weekend and the concept and nature of fathers and fatherhood are on my mind. It is nothing new to observe that Father’s Day plays a somewhat distant second fiddle to Mother’s Day, and I suspect that’s no big deal to most fathers. However, in recent years, and more intensely in this past year as political, racial, and sexual strife has roiled our nation in the midst of a pandemic, fathers and fatherhood have taken it on the chin so to speak. Instead of being valued and lauded as something good, desirable, and admirable, fathers and fatherhood are increasingly mocked, derided, and considered the very cause of numerous societal ills, inequities, and suffering. While there sadly are abusive fathers and absent fathers, and even good fathers are not perfect fathers, nevertheless, the way fathers and fatherhood have been dragged through the mud is not only uncharitable and unfair, but it’s downright unchristian and sinful, a transgression of the Lord’s commandment to “Honor your father and your mother” (Exo. 20:12).


It is God, our heavenly Father, who created fathers and fatherhood in His image and likeness. Fathers and fatherhood are intrinsically good, even if the men who hold those vocations necessarily fall short of perfection, and sometimes terribly so. Though the Lord created the man first, and then the woman from the man, Adam did not become a father until he first became a husband. Male and female He created them, and then He joined them in marriage, proclaiming them to be “one flesh,” and He blessed them that they should be fruitful and multiply. Both marriage and fatherhood were created and instituted and blessed by God as good and holy institutions and vocations before sin entered the world so newly made. The commandment issued by the Lord later was simply a restatement of what had already been established in creation: “Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Exo. 20:12). Because marriage and fatherhood and motherhood are blessed by God to be a blessing for long life and wellbeing, this commandment is called “the first commandment with a promise” (Eph. 6:2). Indeed, civilization and culture, government, and civil laws are founded in and built upon God’s institution of marriage, fatherhood, and motherhood and the Godly vocations ascribed to them. Marriage and motherhood have been under attack for decades in the United States, finally being re-defined, or un-defined, by legal fiat. Now it is fatherhood that is under attack. But, make no mistake, this could not have happened until God our heavenly Father was first marginalized and pushed out from our culture, society, and government.


Today, our culture views fathers as bumbling, lazy idiots like Homer Simpson, at the best, or as racist, bigoted, misogynistic, privileged Nazis at the worst. We should not be surprised, I suppose, that the culture views fathers this way, for this is how the culture views God our heavenly Father. What is a father to do? Well, the answer is in God’s Word: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deu. 6:4-7).


Fathers, yours is a noble and honorable vocation, do not be ashamed and do not be afraid. Scripture is clear that your vocation is a reflection of our heavenly Father. Yes, the world will mock you, ridicule you, and degrade you, and will even hate you; take heart, for so did they mock, ridicule, degrade, and hate your heavenly Father, even as they crucified His Son. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1 John 3:1). “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:13). 


Blessed Father’s Day! May our heavenly Father continue to bless you and to make you a blessing.

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