I just arrived in Andrews, Texas for the summer. Andrews is a very flat place, it has been said that you can watch your dog run away for three days. It is going great so far and i am really enjoying getting to know the students.I just graduated earlier this month. I wont lie, the transition has been hard. I miss Coggin, my friends, and most important my main lady Em.
Since i have been here, I have had the opportunity to hear a lot of the student’s background. Even though they are in a different place, many of the problems are the same as the students in Brownwood. There are many students who do not have a great relationship with their dad. I know here are some at Coggin where their father is pretty much non-existent. The book of Hebrews describes Jesus as a High Priest that is able to sympathize with us? That means even for those of us that grew up without a father. Jesus did not have an earthly father. The one who adopted him, Joseph, died pretty early in Jesus’ life. That was a huge barrier for many people. The couldn’t see Jesus as the Messiah for that reason. Do you remember when Jesus went back to his hometown? The account is in Luke 4:18-19. In short, Jesus goes to church just like all good Jewish people did. He pulls out His handy scroll and starts reading a prophecy from the book of Isaiah, it reads, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
After He gets done, He sits down and I bet you could have heard a pin drop. Jesus looked at the people and said, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” He then gives two examples: the one widow out of many who was provided for and the one leper out of many who was healed. He pretty much claimed to be the Messiah in front of his home town. All the while the people were thinking, “I know this guy! He was Joseph’s son.” However, we know that Joseph was not his real father, and that Joseph died fairly early in the life of Jesus. You know what they did? They tried to throw Jesus off a cliff. But the Scripture says and I am not lying to you, “But passing through their midst he went away.” I can imagine the chaos… “Hey you got him?” “No where did he go?” I get this picture of a dog pile where everyone comes out holding each other but the one they were after slips away. That is good comedy.
So I realize that when many people hear the words “father or dad” the thought that comes to mind is not a pleasant one. So what do we do with this? How do we begin to see God in this light? For some of us it is easy. We have a great relationship with our Dads… so it is easy to see God in that way. When I was little I was scared of thunderstorms… now I mean really little… at least 15 or 16. At night, if there was a thunderstorm, I ran to daddy. If I was afraid there was no other person I wanted near than my own Dad; all 6’5” 230 lbs of him.
In those moments, I felt safe. But you know what happened as I lived out my life? My dad disappointed me (and I have disappointed my dad…on several occasions). In some way or another, no matter how great your dad, mom, sister, brother, best friend, wife is… they will disappoint you. So before we see God as our Father, we have to get rid of our preconceived notions about what a Father is.
First, there is the unpleased Father, the one who says that no matter what you do, it is never good enough. Has there ever been a point in your life where you thought of God like this? Where you thought God was waiting for you to mess up so he could throw lightning bolts at you… or send some tragedy in your life? Its crazy to talk about but that is one idea that we carry when speaking about Fathers. Secondly there is the Apathetic Father. This is the far off distant dad. Perhaps a Dad who works a lot and then when he comes home sits in front of the television or just goes to bed. He may not say it but maybe he just doesn’t care. Let me ask this, if this is a picture of who God is, and he doesn’t care about us… then why send Jesus? We get this idea in our heads that God kind of winds us up like toys, sets us in motion and then turns his back. But what we will see in a few minutes is that we have a Heavenly Father who has gone through major depths to have a relationship with us. For the sake of not being completely depressing, I actually threw in a good one, the Loving Father. This is the type of Dad who is close, is proud, and loves his son/daughter very much. But what we must realize is that even in this third model, it still falls so short of who God is. God is not the reflection of our Father; rather he is the perfection of our Father. This means that where our dads fall short, God is strong. He is merciful, He is intimate, and he is Love.
The reality is, is that God as our Father is willing to go to any depths to get us home. If you are a Christian the Bible makes it clear that you are adopted by God into his family, as his child. That is not symbolic, that is your identity! John 1:12 says, “to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”