We can acknowledge that for many people fatherly and family dynamics are difficult, without diminishing the goodness of calling God our Father and other Christians our siblings.
Dysfunctional families and strained parental relationships have been with us since the beginning of time. Just a few steps outside of Eden one brother kills the other, while the father is noticeably not mentioned (Genesis 4). But, that didn’t dissuade God from revealing himself as a Father and calling his people to consider one another as brothers and sisters. In fact, the gospel message is that all who receive Jesus Christ, who believe on his name, become the children of God (John 1). With Christ they receive a Father and a family of faith.
The eternal Son of God came to us and became a man of flesh and blood. He lived a sinless life and died a sinner’s death. He was raised from the dead and is now exalted as Lord. He did all this in time and space that we who were once far off may through Him be brought near and into the eternal family of God.
In Christ we have a Father. This Father is the one living and true God. He is equally good news for people with a healthy or harmful relationship with an earthly father. No father is perfect. No father provides the deepest need of the soul. No father is eternal. No father saves. The person with a great earthly father still needs a heavenly one. The person with an absent or abusive father can find true fatherly love in the heavenly one.
The blessings and benefits of having God as our Father through faith in Christ are too numerous to count. They are laid before us in every point of God’s revelation to us in the Bible. Certainly, we can think on and rejoice in his love, care, provision, discipline, guidance, and instruction in the good and right way. We can remember that his aim for us, in us, is conformity to the image of the Son, Jesus Christ, leading to shared glory with him. When we pray, we say, “Our Father…”
In Christ we have a Family. This is the church, the redeemed of Christ who are reconciled to God. Through Christ we are brought together. We are not family through a shared physical bloodline, but through a shared faith in the blood of Christ shed on our behalf. Those who hear his word and do his will are his family, and so siblings with one another (Luke 8:31).
The blessings of family in Christ are also innumerable. We see in the epistles of the New Testament the benefits of belonging to the church (Romans 12, I Corinthians 13, Galatians 5, Ephesians 4, Philippians 2, Colossians 3, Hebrews 10, James 2, I John 4). Taken together, these teachings show us we are not alone, but living before the Father together. We are not outside, but inside with the company of God’s children.
There are responsibilities in this family, before the Father and among the siblings. These are worthy of serious consideration and active engagement. We are called to honor the Father through love and obedience. We honor the first Brother, Jesus our Lord, by following his voice and conforming to his image. And, we are called to honor the family in love, service, and care toward that great end of shared glory with Christ.
With Christ comes a Father and family relationship that lasts forever, one we will experience in fullness, as it should be, in time to come.
This will be our theme this Sunday at Grace Community Church. This weekend read John 1: 1-18. Pray for our congregation during these days.