What makes a good father?
Spending time with his children? Being willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his family’s safety? Constantly looking for opportunities to teach his children? Knowing when to discipline his children and when to encourage them? Providing for his family? Demonstrating what it means to be a loving husband? Showing no partiality amongst his children?
Some earthly fathers possess most of these qualities, few possess them all and far too many possess none. Whichever category they fall into, we all know the significant role fathers play in their families, in their children’s lives, their community and society as a whole. Unfortunately, the trend for fathers today is not a positive one.
Our world has always lacked in the father department, but we are seeing a rapid degradation of that role like never before. Men are choosing to abandon their children or not even claim them at all. Some never know they are a father and if they do eventually find out, it’s not until years have passed. Other fathers are not present, whether it be because their jobs take them away (like the military) or they allow their jobs to take them away (workaholics). Some choose things of this world over their kids, i.e. drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, pornography, etc., while others abuse their children mentally, physically and/or sexually.
There are numerous ways a father can show his children how much he loves them, but as we are learning today, there are an increasing number of ways a father can show his children how much he hates them. No wonder our society is the state it is in today.
Generations are being raised by single parents, grandparents, foster parents, siblings, addicts, alcoholics and abusive fathers/parents. Others are left to raise themselves because their parents value themselves more than their children.
Then there’s the trend of same-sex couples raising children. Yes, this is a sticky subject in our culture today, but it’s also one which blatantly goes against God’s design for marriage and family (as do other sins such as alcoholism, adultery and abuse). It is also one we as a church should wisely and boldly stand against. No matter how caring a same-sex couple may be, their love cannot compensate for the absence of a father and a mother. Earthly marriages are meant to resemble Jesus’ relationship with His people, the Church; He is the groom and we are His bride, He is the husband and we are His wife. It’s not a matter of personal preferences or how we feel, but of the Word of God and His original, perfect, wise plan for Creation. But, this is a different subject for a different day, so I digress for the time being.
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No matter a child’s age—whether she’s a newborn or middle-aged—a father’s presence is felt, as is his absence. Fathers are the foundation of a family, and they bear great responsibility in ensuring that foundation remains strong. (Again, it all goes back to God’s Word and His design.)
Yes, our world has far too many pathetic excuses for fathers, but by the grace of God, we also have our fair share of respectable fathers as well. My dad, for one, meets every single one of the criteria I mentioned at the onset of this article. Is he perfect? No, he’s human. However, he is present, he tries to be and do all he can for our family and he loves my mom, sister and me with a deep, selfless kind of love. And that is what matters.
I know I am one of the blessed ones when it comes to my dad, and it breaks my heart to think of all the people who have been or are being raised by a “less than” dad. As a substitute teacher, I see far too many children (from kindergarten to junior high) suffering because their fathers abandoned them, abuse them or are incarcerated, addicts or alcoholics. No two first graders should be able to compare stories of how long their dads are in prison and what they did to end up there. (Yes, that is an actual experience I had while teaching at a local school.) This is not how God envisioned the family, and this is not how he envisioned fathers!
Meditating on this thought for too long will leave anyone discouraged, to say the least, but it’s crucial to remember there is hope. You see, all of those attributes I listed earlier of a good father—love, selflessness, strength, honor, etc.—do apply to someone: God our Father. Yet, unlike any human father (mine included), God embodies each of these characteristics and countless others in their purest, fullest forms, and He does so 100% of the time. He proves it to us in our everyday lives, and He proves it to us in His Word.
God so loved the world that He gave His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins (John 3:16-17, Rom. 5:8).
Nothing can separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:35) and we are forever safe in His presence (Isaiah 41:10, Joshua 1:9).
Perfect and unchanging, God is deserving of all glory and praise (Ps. 18:30, Rom. 12:2, James 1:17, Rev. 1:8).
He is patient, kind, generous and wise, and He desires for every one of His children to love Him and be saved (Prov. 2:6, Isaiah 63:7, Phil. 4:19, 2 Peter 3:9).
He is a good, good Father in the truest sense, and He is your Father (1 Cor. 8:6, Eph. 4:6). You were made in His image, and He cares for you (Gen. 1:26-27, 5:1; Ps. 68:5; 1 John 3:1).
Nothing can separate us from God's love (Rom. 8:35) and we are forever safe in His presence (Isaiah 41:10, Joshua 1:9).
Now, you may be wondering how such an amazing Father could allow bad things to happen to His children, things like death, abuse, rape and even Covid-19. Or maybe you’re thinking of all the times you didn’t feel His love or presence. Well, I am here to tell you, I don’t have the answers to your questions. Many have wondered the same things, including Christians past and present, and still the questions remain in one form or another. Read the story of Lazarus’ death (John 11:1-44), and you will see that even those who lived with Jesus and were closest to Him while He was on earth, even they asked the same questions. This is not to say that these questions are not valid, because they are. However, it is to point to the fact that our questions do not negate God’s goodness or the numerous reasons we should love Him.
We don’t need to understand everything about God and His reasons for doing—or not doing—something. If we did, that would mean we would be on the same level as Him. And I don’t know about you, but a god who’s on the same level as me doesn’t sound like much of a god, at least not one I want, anyway.
Think of it in terms of our government. We, the American people, believe our president should be “above” us in terms of intelligence, communication, diplomacy, business savvy, financial knowledge and other characteristics. After all, the president is the president. He leads one of the world’s top governments, therefore, he should know more than the “average” citizen. That is literally his job.
So if we expect even our human president to possess such knowledge and wisdom, why should we expect less of God? God is infinitely more intelligent and wiser than any human leader, and He controls an entity far greater than a country or even group of countries.
Does that always make it easy to endure hard times in our lives or watch others struggle? No, but it does remind us that our understanding is limited and our perspectives are blemished by our sinful human nature.
Let’s not forget that our perfect Father sent His entirely perfect Son to bear the penalty we deserved for our sins, all so that those of us who believe in Them can live positionally right with Them (and the Holy Spirit) in Heaven for all eternity (Phil. 2:5-11).
Our sin sullies every part of us—our thoughts, our emotions, our motives and our actions—and God’s holiness permeates every part of Him. As a result, our thoughts are not His thoughts and our ways are not His ways (Isaiah 55:8). Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross washed away our sins, but our flawed human nature still remains. We are forever under God’s control and nothing we do will ever change that.
But, unlike any earthly politician or father, God doesn’t abuse His power nor does He seek to harm us (Ezekiel 18:32). He longs for each one of us to have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). And like the perfect Father He is, He will do whatever it takes to help you recognize and accept His love (2 Peter 3:9).
At times, He will discipline us when we have done wrong (Heb. 12:5-11), other times He will simply welcome us with open arms after we have walked away from Him (Luke 15). Sometimes He will protect us from a potential storm (Matt. 8:23-27), while other times He will carry us through it (Isaiah 41:10).
However He chooses to show His love toward us, we can always know it is because of His pure, wise and selfless love for us. Like with our earthly fathers, we may not always like or agree with the way God professes His love, but unlike our earthly fathers, God’s ways are always loving and for our good (Rom. 8:28). All He asks us to do in return is love Him with everything we have (Deut. 6:5).
God longs for each one of us to have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). And like the perfect Father He is, He will do whatever it takes to help you recognize and accept His love (2 Peter 3:9).
Yes, it’s that simple. There are no catches or caveats, just the simple request of our hearts. So no matter what kind of man your earthly father was or is, know your Heavenly Father loves you in the purest, fullest sense and He wants to have a relationship with you.
All that is left is for you to decide. Will you choose a relationship with your Father and allow Him into your heart or will you deny Him and forever guarantee your separation from Him and a permanent residence in Hell?
If you do want to make that commitment today and accept God into your heart, look to Scripture for your next step: “‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38, see also ch. 3:19 and Mt. 3:2). If you just repented of your sins and acknowledged Jesus as your Lord, let me be the first to say, “Congratulations!” You are now part of the family and one of God’s children.
To help you grow as a child of God, here are some helpful next steps you should take:
Find a local church
Purchase a Bible and spend time in it and in prayer every day
Your worries will not go away and you will face more opposition than ever before, but that’s because you just gave your heart to God and Satan, our enemy, is not happy about it. But just as the Word of God tells us time and time again, don’t be afraid (Ps. 23:4, John 14:27). God will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31:6). He has overcome the world and the battle with Satan—and death—is already won (John 16:33; 2 Tim. 2:10; Rev. 20:14, 21:4). As long as God is on your side, no thing and no one can overcome you (Rom. 8:21-35).
With that in mind, I invite you to visit thejesusconnection.info and browse the resources available to help you with your new relationship with Jesus. TJC has encouraging posts on its blog, as well as links to podcasts, free online courses and devotionals from some of the top Christian leaders. You’re also welcome to contact the Jesus Connection with any questions you may have; just visit the “Contact Us” page or you can email (email@example.com, text or call (937-730-1349) us. We’re part of a family now, and families talk to and encourage one another.
And if you’re someone who has already accepted Jesus into your heart but has since fallen away, it’s not too late and you are not too far gone. Just like the father ran to his prodigal son and welcomed him with a hug, clothes and honor, God the Father is waiting for you to turn around and walk into His open arms (Luke 15:11-32). He is just a prayer away. Please take the time to speak to Him now, and I assure you—no, God assures you—that He will hear you and He will welcome you back home (Luke 5:31-32, 19:10; 1 Tim. 2:4).
Take heart, little flock, God is our shepherd, and He is ready to celebrate whenever one of His children returns to Him (Luke 15:3-7). Don’t miss out on this opportunity to acknowledge God as your Father and give Him the rightful praise He deserves. You will never regret it if you do, but you will forever regret it if you don’t.
The decision is yours and the Father is waiting, but the time is limited (Matt. 24:44, 2 Peter 3:10). Don’t delay any longer. Accept God before it’s too late. Let Him sign your certificate of adoption, not your certificate of death. In the end, He will do one or the other, but it’s up to you which one it will be (Matt. 25:31-46).
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.
This post originally appeared on County News Online.