(9) . . . the Father . . .

I have taught my children to pray to “our Father in heaven.” When they hear God called “Father,” do they think about their earthly father and wonder if God is like me? Some children hate the very sound of the word “father” because it reminds them of a man who played the fool in their family and blighted their lives. In my children’s understanding of their heavenly Father, may I be a window, not a closed door.

God’s fatherhood is very different from mine, indeed his is quite unique. There was a time when I was not a father. But God the Father and God the Son have always been together. By myself, without a mate, I could never have been a father. But God is Father in himself. My children came into being through an unbelievable, complicated process with which I had little to do. But God the Father was entirely and always involved in the being of his Son. I can’t really understand the fatherhood of God by considering merely my own fatherhood. It seems that there are two kinds of fatherhood, and that’s that. My fatherhood after the flesh is only a very pale shadow of that of God. My name as father is derived from his reality as the eternal Father of the eternal Son, not the other way around.

Perhaps I am only truly and wholly a father when I have spiritual children. Almost any man can become a biological father. But unmarried people like Paul found that they could father spiritual sons such as Timothy. How can this be? Because the Spirit of the Son is the same as the Spirit of the Father. If this Spirit is in me, I can not only be a son of God but also a godfather to some other person. When the Word of Christ which is in me has been passed along to some other person, the Spirit of God can use that Word for a new start in that other life. Thus somebody else can become my son in the spirit as well as a son of God. When my children-after-the-flesh become my children-in-the-Spirit, then I have become their father in a deeper sense than ever before. Even unmarried people can become parents in the Lord. Thank God for parents who gave us birth, and thank God for parents in the Lord. Blessed are they for whom these two sets of parents are one and the same. These children will find it easy to believe in God the Father.