God our Father
For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).
For many people, fathers are honored and revered, respected and appreciated for all the love they have shown to their children. Sadly, for many others, fathers are not looked upon so kindly because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Some have no real father figure in their lives.
Regardless of how effectively our fathers embraced their responsibilities, most of us understand that the “father figure” in our lives is quite important to our development and well-being. Fathers have a critical role to play in the lives of their children, contrary to what some today say. Studies have shown that the self-image, self-confidence, and behavior of children are strongly influenced by the role their father plays in their lives.
There is a good reason why the “father figure” is a necessary component to our well-being: one of the most prevalent metaphors describing our relationship to God is that of Father and child. Our earthly fathers are the imperfect physical shadow of the perfect spiritual reality present in our Heavenly Father (cf. Hebrews 12:5-11). At best, if our relationship with our earthly father is good, we can see the reflection of our heavenly Father through that relationship. At worst, if our relationship with our earthly father is poor, we can nevertheless establish our heavenly Father as the “father figure” we never had physically.
The worst thing we could do is to project any ill will that we might have toward an earthly father because of his imperfections upon our heavenly Father. For too many, the image of the heavenly Father is an overbearing old man who is only interested in showing us how we have made mistakes and who seeks opportunities to destroy us.
Nothing could be further from the truth. If our heavenly Father really felt that way, He could easily have just turned His back on His creation, casting everyone into hell for their sin (cf. Romans 6:23)!
Please consider the picture of the father in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32): a father brokenhearted by the willful rebellion of his son, yet willing to humiliate himself by running toward the son as he returns, bestowing again honor and grace on account of his great love toward his child.
This is how Jesus portrays our heavenly Father for us. We have rebelled against Him, and it has broken His heart in many ways (Isaiah 59:1-2). God has paid for the redemption we could never afford to buy through the sacrifice of His Son, and through Him wants to bless us with all things (Romans 8:31-32). He wants to save us because He loves us– He does not want any of us to perish (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:8)!
Earthly fathers are to be honored for their position (Ephesians 6:1-2); how much more, then, should we honor our heavenly Father, who loves us and has graciously given us all things? Let us honor and praise God our Father, and look to Him for guidance, counsel, insight, and strength, and be saved through our relationship with Him!
Ethan R. Longhenry