I wrote this call to worship for our service this morning on the fatherhood of God. It's inspired by Luke Hendrix, an elder, mentor, and friend, who's played a bigger role in my formation in the gospel over the last decade than anyone I can think of. I'm grateful for iconic windows like Luke (and my own father) who've helped me experience a clearer glimpse into the very heart of God.
Father. What comes to mind when you hear that word?
Absent? Domineering? Abusive deadbeat adulterer?
Hurt mom? Ignored mom? Left mom?
Hurt me? Ignored me? Left me?
Okay, many of us have some gnarly experiences with dad.
Let’s make sure, however, we locate the source of the problem correctly. It isn’t fatherhood itself, per se. Augustine, one of the early church’s fathers, one who cared for the life of the church, liked to say:
Evil can’t create anything; it can only corrupt the good things God has made.
God has given fatherhood as a good thing, a gracious gift, to reflect who he is. Ideally, fatherhood is an icon, a window we look through into the heart of God. Evil can corrupt this image, muddy up this mirror, but it cannot destroy its root in the lavish, life-giving, throbbing heartbeat of God.
Which leads to my question: in what ways can our fathers accurately reflect the image of God? How might those of us who are fathers, or act as fathers in the lives of others, do so with faithful joy in a way that displays the glory of our heavenly Father?
What does it mean to father as a verb.
Fathers give us life—they create us, initiate our existence, beget us into being . . . and it doesn’t stop on the day we’re born—it’s only just begun.
A good father is:
a rushing waterfall who pours into our existence,
a shrewd businessman who invests scant resources into our growing lives,
an attentive sculptor who shapes our formation into the people we shall become,
an elephant’s ear big enough to listen to all our concerns and hear our cares,
a GPS roadmap who guides us in the way we should go.
A good father is a commander in the hostile battle zone of the world, who considers the welfare of his junior troops above his own, and in a hundred different ways willingly falls on his sword to lay down his life for us.
A good father is a gardener, who pours into us that we might grow, protects us from the harsh winds that we might thrive, prunes our rough edges that we might stand up tall, and takes pleasure in us as we bear life-giving fruit for the world.
A good father is a signpost of God’s sacrificial love, a window into the heartbeat of God, an icon of our Heavenly Father who embraces us in our distance, confronts the destruction of our idolatry, and is willing to lift us on the strength of his shoulders to carry us home.
Imago Dei, we find ourselves gloriously confronted today by a good, good Father, who is for us, who has given sacrificially and generously of himself in Christ, to embrace us in the power of his Spirit and bring us home.
Home is where he is, our glorious Father, and he is here, today, with us. Let us worship.