Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fathers and God

Dear Pastor Lawyer,

I grew up in a family where everything was always topsy-turvy. My father drank a lot and could never seem to hold a job. He wasn’t home much and when he was, he beat us kids a lot of the time. He also treated my mother terribly. My question for you is, how can I love and respect God the father when every time I hear the word father, I cringe and want to run away and hide?

Thanks, Confused

Dear confused,

You’re right when you assume that there is some kind of correlation between God and your father. One of the reasons God created the family was so that children and others could see how God and his people are supposed to function together (e.g. The Bible says that the father represents Christ and the wife represents the church — Ephesians 5:22ff.). When a child sees his father, he is supposed to see God. Thus, fathers represent God to their families. If the father is a godly man, who loves his wife and children, and who cares for them by loving them and disciplining them, his children’s view of God will be more accurate than those of the man who abandons his family for his own selfish gain. In both cases the family has a view of God: the former have a good idea of God, the latter a terrible one.

There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind as you think about these things. First, no father is perfect. This means that everyone’s view of God is a bit skewed. God did this on purpose so that we wouldn’t worship our fathers, thus becoming idolaters. He wants us to look past our fathers to him. Dads are like neon lights that point to God. When the light works well, the view is good. If the light is dim or sends the wrong message, our understanding and ideas about God are off.

Second, since no one is perfect, you need to realize that your father could never have been a perfect father. He could have been better, yes, but he wasn’t. This means that you are going to have to forgive him for his sin and go on with your life in Christ. Let me caution you here that you need to study God’s word so that you get an accurate view of how your father should have been rather than a “gut feeling” about how things ought to have been. You may be holding things against your father that were not sin and were not even wrong. This leads me to the last thing to keep in mind.

You’re going to have to do some serious Bible study to learn about how God really is and how fathers should really behave. Then, as you come across passages that describe God in ways that differ from your own experience, you can forgive your father and change the picture you have about God to fit the Biblical ideal rather than the one your father gave you. As you do this, your view of God will become more accurate and your feelings about calling him Father will change as well.

Blessings on you as your image of God grows and changes,

Pastor Lawyer


Toby said...

Hi Mike!

Thanks for what you've got here. There's some good stuff.

I noticed a few typos down on the "Loving Daughters" post, fwiw.


Mike said...

Thanks Toby. The typos seem to be due to the censoring software in the blog. When I try to fix them, the blog itself changes them back. That isn't to say that I don't have any other typos on my own. Sorry.