It was Jesus who first brought the concept to the human race that God was not a master to be served, a dictator to be feared or a mysterious, whimsical tyrant to be appeased through meaningless ritual and pomp. Jesus taught us that God wanted to be our Heavenly Father through the miracle of the new birth.
Jesus was God’s Son, and so could speak on what it meant to look upon God as our very Father. He could speak of God’s perspective on His children and describe the love of the perfect Father: it was not the love of a husband made less divine by its passion; it was not the love of a brother or sister dictated by a genetic bond; it was not the immature love of a child, nor the love of a kinsman so often overshadowed by resentment. It was the love only a father could know for his child.
A loving father does for a son what no one else could. The love of a father burns away the dross of sin and rebellion that an outsider will never fail to see and forever remember. And how could it be any other way? Is the son not flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone? Is the son not a reflection of the father, complete with elements of personality, mind, body and soul? Can the father help but to see himself in his son and live again parts of his life in the young man’s life? Was the son not created in union with the one woman whom he passionately loves, chosen from among billions of others?
From the time of infant nurturing to the time that a personality and soul began to emerge, the father has watched the son grow up at his feet. Then, the rewards began to grow even greater as he saw his own values become the possession of the son, not just the predictable outcome of childhood training. In his son’s presence, the father begins to understand what it means to have been created in the image of God. Is God not a Creator? Did not Christ tell us He was our Heavenly Father?
This profoundly impacting concept of God as our Father introduces to us a marvelous understanding of how God can not only demand moral accountability from us, but how he can also deal with our transgressions with a loving and forgiving heart. If he sees in us a willingness to confess our sins before Him and claim His mercy as our greatest asset toward forgiveness and redemption, how could a real father do other than forgive? Is this not how a loving father will deal with his own son? Can a loving father chastise a son who comes with head bowed in the spirit of humility and contrition? Can a loving heart punish a son who is obviously punishing himself in the full recognition of his offense? Could God be God and not be a Father?
If we want to understand God, we must understand Fatherhood. We must see the loving heart of a God who does not violate His perfect righteousness in dealing with the rebellion of His children, but who offers Himself to pay the price demanded by His perfect justice: His only Son. In offering His only Son, since they are both One, does He not in fact offer Himself? What else could a loving father do?
Jerry D. Kaifetz, Ph.D.