The Importance of a Loving Father

Taigen Joos

silhouette of man and woman kissing during sunset

The concept of family stems from the Garden of Eden when God established the first marriage, and thus the first family unit. To be a family is to live in a kind of intimacy with one another. I have a family of four, with my wife, son, and daughter. Together we eat, we laugh, we serve, we grow, we pray, and we worship. We enjoy each other’s company and miss each other when we are apart. Family is a wonderful blessing.

How incredible, then, to consider the church as the family of God. As a Christian, one who has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior through repentant faith, I now have the right to be called a child of God (John 1:12). What an incredible and profound privilege (1 John 3:1)! I am not an only child, though. I exist as one child amongst many, as visibly seen in the body of Christ, the church. As a member of my church, I enjoy the company of my spiritual brothers and sisters. And we each can call God our Father in heaven. Again, what grace!

In my years of Christian ministry, I have observed that some people believe that God their heavenly Father is similar in character, behavior, and demeanor to their earthly father, primarily in negative ways. Their experience as a child with their earthly father was filled with a variety of difficulties. Perhaps their father was distant and didn’t have much to do with them. Perhaps he was abusive in some sense. Perhaps he was the type of father that was never proud of his children’s accomplishments. Perhaps nothing done by the children ever seemed to please him. Perhaps their father was always telling them their faults and ways to improve things without expressing love, encouragement, or words of affirmation.

Sometimes, as those kinds of children are regenerated, they can then project those traits of their earthly father onto God our heavenly Father, which is a mistake to do—an understandable mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.

In this type of situation, a Christian may think that he has to somehow perform a certain way in hopes of being accepted by God, or to garner God’s positive attention. Perhaps he lives his Christian life in fear of God’s pouncing on him and berating him, much like his earthly father did. Perhaps he lives his life believing in God’s reality and salvation but thinking that God is too far away to really care about him and his personal life and struggles.

For me, especially in my grown-up years, I never felt like I could do much to make my dad proud of me, or to be pleased with me (my dad passed away in 2018). As a result, I’ve had many inner conversations in my soul, with Scripture in hand or mind, preaching to myself that God is not like my earthly father. God is the absolute best Father, ever! He is my perfect Father without the capacity to be otherwise. He loves me with a perfect love. He cares about my every need, and every detail of my life. I don’t have to perform for him to earn his favor; I am accepted by the Father in the Beloved One, Jesus Christ. It is his love for me that is overwhelming for me to think about sometimes. I can sing hymns that speak of this incredible love for God and be swept up in the grand thoughts of God, my Father’s, love for me. Texts like:

O the deep, deep, love of Jesus!
Vast, unmeasured, boundless free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me.
Underneath me, all around me, 
Is the current of Thy love;
Leading onward, leading homeward,
To Thy glorious rest above.

—Samuel Trevor Francis, c.1890

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember? 
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
Throughout heav’n’s eternal days.

—William Rees, 1855

My friend, if you find yourself attributing to God what was true of your earthly father, then be comforted today in the perfect love of God. He loves with an immense, faithful, free, beautiful, and comforting love. Your Father loves you and cares for you; he is not out to trip you up, or waiting for you to fail so he can berate you and shame you. God is for you!

Your Father will never leave you, abandon you, or abuse you. He will never berate you, demean you, or rail on you. He is not distant, but is with you, and his Spirit is in you. 

Learn to preach sermons to yourself—biblically saturated sermons—to remind yourself of your great God and Father. However, if you are going to preach a sermon to yourself, you must have something to preach which means that you must saturate your heart with the truth about God from his holy Word. 

As you parent your children, learn to love your children as God has loved you. Show your children—albeit in an imperfect way, as we are imperfect and finite beings—what God’s love is. Allow the love of God to flood over your own soul, and incline you to walk in love, even as he is love.

If you are struggling with viewing God rightly, then constantly remind yourself, “God is the best Father, ever!” Study the Scriptures yourself to discover how loving and faithful he truly is. And rejoice that the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity can rightly be called your Father in heaven, and you his child. Let this humble you, comfort you, and shape your response to him, one of loving, humble, and grateful service to him.

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