Published in 2010 in Challenge Weekly
So it's Father's Day this Sunday. I believe that Father's Day is an excellent time for the Dad's among us to take stock of what it means to be a husband and Father. I am a Dad. I am blessed with three lovely daughters in their late teens and early twenties, so I have some idea of what is involved. To me, the most challenging and rewarding thing I have done in my life is being a Dad. As I have gone about being a Dad, the Bible has given me great guidance.
The first thing is to consider God as 'Father'. This is the favourite name given to God in the Bible. The ancient picture of manhood and fatherhood was a picture of power and strength. The God of the Bible is strong, but he is more. He is full of love, mercy and gentleness. He protects us, provides for us, nurtures us and comforts us when we are struggling. He disciplines us when we step out of line, but only because he loves us. The supreme way God demonstrates fatherhood is by saving us with the greatest sacrifice that a Father can ever make; by giving his one and only son to save us through his humility and death on a cross. God is truly our 'Abba', our Dad. This lays down the patter of how we are to be with our families.
The second thing I have found most helpful is Ephesians 5:21-6:10. Here instruction is given especially to wives and husbands, fathers and slave masters. People often debate this passage about who should submit to whom, and often miss the radical appeal to men in the passage. Here, Paul looks at fatherhood from three perspectives; the man of the house as husband, as father and as master. This of course relates to the ancient world where the father was the paterfamilias, the supreme all powerful head of the family which included wives, children and slaves. The key is Eph 5:22 where Paul says husbands are not to lord it over their families, but to behave like Christ who gave himself up for us. This takes us to the cross, where Jesus gave his life for humanity. Paul is urging fathers to imitate Christ, living a life of service, sacrifice and love. They are to show this to their children and even to their slaves.
Earlier in Eph 5:1-2 Paul captures this, writing, 'Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.' What should mark us as fathers is love, service and self-giving. Paul is here calling for a complete revolution in manhood; men not dominating with force and power, but like Christ, serving in love and humility.
So, this Father's Day let us Fathers resolve to take up our crosses and give our lives for our families. Go deeper.