This Sunday is Father’s Day here in the United States and in many countries around the world. Most countries have something like our Father’s Day — a day to celebrate our fathers.
It is a fact that every one of us has a father. It is also a fact that the relationship each of us have had with our fathers is different. Some of us have had good fathers, some of us had fathers who were not so good. Consequently, when the word ‘father’ is used, we all have different images and feelings come to us. This complicates how we relate to the concept of “father.”
In the Bible, Jesus often spoke of His Father. Jesus’ father was not Joseph, the husband of Mary. It was God himself, the creator of everything that is. When Jesus taught us how to pray, he taught us to address God as our Father. Those of us who have had good fathers have an easier time with this than those of us who didn’t have good fathers. What we need to understand about God is, not just that he is a father, but what kind of father God is. God is not simply a father; God is a certain kind of father. God is a loving father, always.
Jesus describes his father in this way: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)
God is the kind of father who loves his enemies, and does good for everyone. Notice also, that to be a child of this kind of father, is to love like the heavenly Father loves. Too often we substitute the image of the loving Creator-God-Father with the experience we had with our personal fathers. When this happens, we find that trusting our Father in heaven can become more difficult.
On this day when we honor our fathers, let’s also take time to honor our Father in heaven. As Jesus himself taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” May we regard our heavenly Father’s name as holy, as the embodiment of pure love.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 (NIV)
The Rev. Steven Ganz is pastor of Clover Pass Community Church.
Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.