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Sunday, June 18, 2023

On Father's Day

The focus of this day, of course, is on our physical/earthly fathers, and most of them certainly deserve our thanks and respect for all of the things which they have done for us. Nevertheless, many of us cannot help to also think about our Heavenly Father, Almighty God, and the love and gratitude that we feel for Him. We remember what Christ said to Nicodemus: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:16-17, ESV) Our Father loved us enough to sacrifice His Son so that we could be saved - that's a lot of love! Indeed, John later wrote that God IS love (I John 4:8, 16)!

And, just as the Father loved us, Christ said that the greatest - most important - commandment in the Torah was to love God "with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." (Matthew 22:37-38, ESV). Also, in the same epistle in which he had said that "God is love," John said that the best way to demonstrate that love was to love each other and obey Him (I John 4:20, 5:2) Moreover, in the Gospel of John, we read that Christ told the Jews of his day that "If God were your Father, you would love me" (8:42, ESV).

Jesus also gave us a number of admonitions about how we should regard and interact with our Heavenly Father. He said that we should strive to be like him - forgiving and loving those who are opposed to us and striving for the perfection which is Him (Matthew 5:43-48). He went on to say that we should do our charitable works and say our prayers privately, for Him to see and hear - NOT to receive accolades from the public (Matthew 6:1-6). Christ also said that we should address our prayers to the Father, and that we should always remember that he is already aware of our needs before we even get started (Matthew 6:8-13, 32)! Jesus said that God wants to give us extraordinary gifts, but that we must strive to do His will (Matthew 7:11, 21). Jesus also said that God wanted His children to worship Him in Spirit and in TRUTH (John 4:23).

Finally, Jesus made very clear that the Father had sent him to this earth, and that he alone represented Him (John 3:35, 5:26, 30, 36, 8:42, 12:49-50). Christ went on to assert that he was the one who had revealed the Father to humankind, and that no one would be able to come to the Father except through him (John 1:18, 5:37, 6:46, 14:6). Christ then went on to promise his followers that those who loved him and kept his commandments would experience both Jesus and the Father living within him/her, and that the Father would give him/her a Comforter to help that person through the remainder of this life (John 14:23, 26).

I lost my own father at the end of 2021. However, like him, I continue to have a Heavenly Father who loves and cares for me. I also cannot forget that I too am a father to my two daughters and a grandfather to six grandchildren. In this connection, I am reminded that God instructed the Israelites to honor their fathers and mothers (Exodus 20:12), but Paul also wrote to the saints at Ephesus and Colossians that fathers also had certain obligations to their children. He said that fathers shouldn't provoke their children, and that they should teach them how to love their Heavenly Father (Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21). Hence, for me at least, honoring my father on this day encompasses so much more than a nod to the man who was physically responsible for me. On this day, I think about God, my forefathers, and my responsibilities to them and my own children and grandchildren. This is what Father's Day means to me. What about you?

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