In a world broken by sin, good fathers are a precious commodity. I didn’t realize how much I took for granted until I got into college and then the workplace. As my experiences broadened so did my knowledge of others sorrows. The amount of broken homes is one of the greatest heartaches thinly veiled beneath the so-called American dream. Provision, affection, and love for my mother were things I took for granted from my dad. With every passing year—now as a dad with two little boys—I grow in thankfulness for my father. And as I struggle with my own sin and desire to be an even better father, I am thrown back on the pattern of my Heavenly Father and the foundation of the Gospel. The Lord’s Prayer is a great reminder of the pattern and foundation of real fatherhood.
Real fatherhood is holy. Our Heavenly Father has a Name that is holy and hallowed by us in our actions. Christian fatherhood causes our children first and foremost to take note that their daddy walks with God. The presence of Christ shines from the heart and life of the holy dad.
Real fatherhood is inseparably tied to the coming of God’s kingdom and the doing of God’s will on earth just like it is in heaven. Our children—when they think of us—must know that our greatest passion in life is the advance of the kingdom of grace and the doing of God’s will as revealed in the Bible. Salvation, Christ-likeness, and obedience to the revealed will of God is number one to the godly dad. And rather than making our children feel second place, it must be expressed in such a way that they understand that because we are built on this Rock our love and commitment to them will be unwavering.
Real fatherhood is content with today’s provisions and seeks to emulate the Father’s provision for us. As Jesus said, our Heavenly Father knows we have need of earthly things. Christian fatherhood, while striving to better the economic condition of the home, demonstrates that happiness and “getting stuff” are not fundamentally connected and that God can be trusted when we eat today’s bread without even knowing where tomorrow’s is coming from. Christian fatherhood lays ahold of God for the needed provisions and confidently trusts in God to provide even through—and sometimes apart from—faithful labor.
Real fatherhood rushes to demonstrate an eager willingness to forgive others because of the enjoyment of already-received forgiveness from God. And that awareness of the continual forgiveness of Christ leads a godly father to demonstrate a lack of trust in himself and a crying out to God for deliverance from—and in—temptation.
Real fatherhood rests confidently in the fact that Christ’s kingdom, power, and glory are all now present realities—“thine is….” Turmoil and difficulties can sometimes roll in waves over a family. But if a father may yet show a firm confidence and commitment to God’s sovereignty, kingdom, and glory he may be the needed rock to point his family to follow his example and trust in God and serve Christ when all seems pain, loss, or agony.
Real fatherhood rests on the Gospel. No mere man can ever do his full duty. No man can ever love God with all his heart, soul, strength, and mind. But Jesus teaches us to pray “Our father”. We come to the Father with Jesus. We come to the Father through Jesus. We come to the Father in Jesus. And that makes all the difference in the world. Because Jesus is praying for fathers. He is praying that those who love Him and have the privilege to hold little hands in this life would have a faith that would not fail. When fatherhood is actuated by the wounds of redeeming love, it may then approach the heavenly pattern without fear of ultimate rejection or failure.
So praise God for fathers that have served us like Jesus. Praise God for fathers that have endeavored to model the Heavenly Father. And praise God for fathers who owned their sins and showed us how to come to Jesus and claim the cleansing of precious blood. Fathers want their children with them. Christian fathers are headed to glory. Honor your biological father. And whether your Christian father is biological or spiritual, don’t forget to honor the one God used to bring you into that family that supersedes all earthly ties and brings us into that family that, once joined, shall never part again.