BY EDWIN JUDD
HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER
Those of us that have enjoyed a great family heritage take pleasure in giving honor to our fathers or receiving honor as a father on Father’s Day. This is Biblical. As Paul states in Ephesians 6:2-3 (NIV), “’Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with promise—’that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy a long life on the earth.’” But, how about those coming from dysfunctional family backgrounds that have not enjoyed such a heritage? How are they to look upon such a day with such a commandment? What does fatherhood mean to one who has not had a father image in his life or possibly worse, an abusive father in his life?
First of all, it is God’s plan that a child gleans a positive image of a loving, providing, faithful, father from the example shown to him by his natural, biological father. When this is accomplished, it is a far more natural projection for such a child to develop a positive image of his Heavenly Father. When the father image is negative in one’s life, it is far more difficult for him to develop a positive image of his Heavenly Father as one of love, provision, and faithful.
This fact was deeply impressed upon me as I was called upon to minister on Father’s Day 2011 here at Life Church – Tupelo, the Mansion-related church attended by all the residents of Tupelo Children’s Mansion. With all those children and young people sitting before me, how was I to project a positive image of fatherhood if they had never or were not now enjoying such a relationship with the one they were commanded to “honor”? Perhaps certain fathers had been abusive. Perhaps some had been a tyrant. Perhaps some fathers had unfaithfully abandoned their responsibilities as a dad. Perhaps they were totally unknown. Or perhaps they were dead.
I searched the Scriptures for an example of fatherhood that I could project as a positive example before these, many of whom had never had such an earthly example in their lives.
While many examples of great fathers could be found, none were without flaws and failures.
So I turned to Him Who is the perfect example of fatherhood, our Father which art in heaven.
While our natural fathers may be many of the negatives of fatherhood, our loving Lord, sets before us a pattern of what fatherhood should be and what His fatherhood to each of us is and is not.
First of all, he is not tyrannical, unloving, abusive, a deserter who puts His personal interests ahead of the welfare of His children. And, He is not dead.
The focal point was what He is. He is loving, faithful, a provider, a protector, a positive disciplinarian, a giver of good gifts, and he is approachable and responsive to the needs and desires of His children.
Hopefully, a positive image of fatherhood was projected to “the fatherless” as we considered the example set by The Perfect Father, “Our Father which art in heaven.” Even without a natural father in our lives, through His redemptive and regenerative work, we can receive “adoption as sons” and “become children of God.” Therefore, we should make this and every day Our Heavenly Father’s Day.