Depictions of fathers have varied greatly across the millennia. From Shakespeare's flattery-obsessed King Lear to Dickens' gentle hardworking Bob Cratchit, from the ultimate evil dad of Star Wars' Darth Vader to the bumbling doofus dad of nearly every television commercial, fathers have run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous.
But whether blessed with a Cratchit-like nurturer or cursed with a Vader-esque tyrant, fathers play a big role in shaping who we ultimately become as individuals. And for those who grow up without a father -- whether due to death or abandonment -- the gap left often permanently affects their perceptions of themselves and the world around them.
Wouldn't it be great if everyone had a father who was kind, fair, loving and just? Well, actually we do.
Throughout Scripture, God is described with fatherly care and compassion. When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, He begins with the words "our Father." The Apostle Paul reminds Christians in Rome that they have "received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.'" (Rom. 8:15) And once again in his letter to the church in Galatia, Paul tells believers "because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'" (Gal. 4:6) The Aramaic word "Abba" was the familiar term children used to address their fathers. In 2 Corinthians 6:18, Paul makes it clear that the relationship between a person and God is meant to be that of a child to his or her father. Paul writes, "'I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty."
Just as the depiction of fathers has varied widely throughout history, depictions of God have differed so much that we risk losing the important and intimate picture of life-giving fathering that we receive in the Bible. Father's Day is a good time to become reacquainted -- or acquainted for the first time -- with a Father who loves without ceasing, who shows compassion on His people, who gives rest to the weary and hope to the hopeless.
You don't need to wait until next Father's Day to get to know your ultimate father -- God. You can meet Him in your nearest Bible.
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