God the Father
In a world where multiple factors play intricate roles in influencing and shaping individuals within society. We live and have our faith. One of the questions we must ask is what are keys to ultimately shape and alter our way of experiencing faith in the future? This is the issue we will begin exploring. One of the most important factors that alter the course of faith in the individuals journey is their experience with their father during their childhood. A controversial essay was presented at a university by a bold psychologist who made an assessment of atheist and major contributors to their abandonment of faith in God. He mostly focused on the major players in atheist think tanks, military atheist, and major world influencers. Some of the individuals on the list were:
Karl Marx Jean-Paul Sarte Albert Camus Sigmund Freud Bertrand Russel
One of the fascinating things that immediately jumped at Dr. Paul Vitz was the commonality of them. They all had either a deficient, abusive, or absent father.
Even earlier before Dr.Vitz the famed Sigmund Frued saying the following:
“psychoanalysis of individual human beings . . . teaches us with quite special insistence that the god of each of them is formed in the likeness of his father, that his personal relation to God depends on the relation to his father in the flesh and oscillates and changes along with that relation, and that at bottom God is nothing other than an exalted father.” Nicholi, Armand (2002-04-03). The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life (p. 43). Free Press. Kindle Edition.
What both of these psychologist are saying is that it is perfectly natural for an individual to look at his surroundings, particularly his father, and to have their faith completely altered based on this experience. Good or bad fatherhood will alter your spiritual journey.
What does the Bible say about the relationship between fatherhood and God? The Old Testament alone uses the title of father for God nine times!
In the New Testament this role of God as father is emphasized drastically more where God is mentioned as a father in 119 passages! In all these the most common is found occurrence is found in the Gospels and out of the Gospels the most frequent use is in the Gospel of John.
Instead of covering every passage in which John uses the title of Father for God let us focus on Jesus final prayer where Jesus begins to summarize his entire ministry in John chapter 17. John 17:1–4 (ESV)
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.
Twice Jesus compares his glory to that of the father but the most interesting thing is that Jesus wanted the father to be understood, God had been misunderstood for so long that it was time for him to have a perfect representative come, Jesus. If anyone has been shaped in a negative way by their earthly father, Jesus came to show them that their heavenly father was nothing like that.
John 17:10–11 (ESV)
10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
Just as the father is glorified in the son, likewise Jesus is glorified by the followers. They are to carry the name of the father. In this context Jesus does not mean we cary the title, but just like the glory, we carry the presence of God. We do this by becoming more like him. No take into consideration the relationship a father would have with his son. As the son grows he is in awe of his father and he strives to be more and more like him. Two things are important to note from this analogy. There are expectations from the father that are only determined by the growth of the son. The son as a toddler might learn how to walk but the father will not expect him to bring in the groceries. As the son grows older and he might learn how to walk he obviously will not expect him to walk. It is the growth of the son in his particular stage that will determined how much he is like the father.
In the same context God will not expect us to run before we learn to walk. God wants us to be like him, as the father, but he will help us grow to be more like him in every stage in every appropriate way.
As a father should only expect his son to grow in the appropriate stage he is in likewise the father only expects growth in the appropriate spiritual stage we are in. The second point is that at any point that a child becomes disillusioned with his father he ceases to want to become as much like him. As he faces his fathers imperfections then the awe wears away and so does the motivation to be more him. The difference between our earthly fathers and our heavenly fathers is that our ideas of his imprecation are only shaped by looking away from him and not at him. Jesus came to show us what the father was like because so many had been shaped in ways to see how the father was not, by their earthly fathers. Our striving to be more like God only gets confused or deterred when we cease to look at him, it is only then that our striving to be more like him begins to die away. We only cease to want to be like our father when we find his flaws, we only cease to be like our heavenly father when we cease to look at him, we mischaracterize imperfections in him when we are distracted by something else.
John 17:25–26 (ESV)
25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Jesus came to change our paradigm of God as a father by showing us what he is really like.
God is not an abstract philosophy, He is our Father.
God is not a moral tyrant, He is our Father!
God is not an absent deistic entity, like some earthly fathers, He is our heavenly Father!
"Although he was initially given one to three years to live, Wedemeyer continued to coach, leading Los Gatos to a 78-18-1 record and seven league titles. Early in his battle with the disease, he lost the ability to walk and speak. He was confined to a wheelchair and talked to his players through Lucy, using a language of blinks, eyebrow raises and cheek twitches to communicate with her. Their story attracted national attention, and they were the subject of a made-for-TV movie in the 1980s." http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jun/05/local/la-me-charlie-wedemeyer-20100605
The Father is not supposed to show a literal relationship but a level of intimacy. We cannot truly understand what the father is saying unless we learn to look into his face and hear his words and only when we understand him in this way will we with true and pure intentions want to strive to be more like him.