Paul starts his second prayer for the Ephesians with a fascinating statement: For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. The Greek word translated “father” (pater) has the same root as the word translated “family” (patria). This is Paul’s play on words which, unfortunately, is lost in translation. He is saying that all human fatherhood is meant to find its origin in God’s fatherhood. God has divinely structured relationships in this world, and the one to come, on the pattern of his fatherliness. Those who lead, whether it is blood families, football teams, classrooms or governments, are meant to do so from a fatherly perspective.
In an era of a “global pandemic of fatherlessness” it is just like God, in his grace and compassion, to highlight this aspect of his nature. Secular psychologists, governments and institutions are pinpointing fatherlessness as a root cause of many societal woes. If we want to serve this world with the Gospel we must be in touch with the truth that God as Loving Father is the ultimate solution. He satisfies the cry of every human heart.
Our hearts need to encounter the love of the Father. It’s not just about good theology, as important as that is. We need to experience his love in order for there to be authentic transformation. Whether that experience comes in a dramatic emotional encounter or in a series of gentle revelatory moments we need to “taste and see” that God is indeed our Loving Father. We were designed to live in his love. And, we can’t authentically give away what we do not have.
I speak about experiencing God as a Loving Father as opposed to knowing the love of God in a generic sense. God’s self-disclosure in the Scriptures is as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is three persons, one essence. If we worship a Trinitarian God who is personal and relational, then it would be wise of us to learn to relate to these three persons as they are revealed in the Scriptures.
A father is supposed to help us find our identity and self-worth, which leads us to discover our sense of purpose. He provides materially. He creates safety and security. He helps us know that we are capable, powerful and beautiful. The Scriptures show us on every page this is what the Father freely offers. This can be captured in one notion: co-heirs with Christ.
Father, would you, by your Spirit, open the eyes of our hearts so that we may know the glorious riches of the inheritance that you have made available to us in Christ Jesus. Cause him to dwell in our hearts through faith so that we will be rooted and established in your boundless love! For the glory of your great name, and for those who are yet to know. Make us fathers, like you! Amen.