A caring father – and every devoted parent or guardian for that matter – feels a deep duty to nurture the little (or big) ones under his care, preparing them well for whatever their role will be and whatever they will face.
This responsibility can seem heavy or downright impossible at times; you so want to do, or even just say, the right thing. But what – and how?
Time out! What was Jesus telling my two daughters – and me? What was wrong with them depending on me for the fatherly things – advice, love, support, tennis, and baseball? Didn’t I sign up for that?
As usual, a deeper look into the “things which are not seen” reveals the insight. I discovered that the message was urging the turning away, not from a human parent, but from the accepted belief (the Adam and Eve model) that creation is material, flawed, and therefore subject to the laws of biology, heredity, and human nature. This revealing of God as the true Creator, the ever Father, saves the child from feeling separated from the care and presence of Love. And it redeems the parent from the imposition of false responsibility, inadequacy, or any kind of failure. The psalmist put it this way: “It is he [God] that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Ps. 100:3).
Therefore both parent and child are free to look to God as the Father and to each one’s identity as the spiritual offspring, the image and likeness, of God (see Gen. 1:26). This doesn’t diminish the mutual love between parent and child; it heightens it, because neither one is dependent on a limited sense of life inherited from, or environment created by, a human parent.
Calling “no man your father upon the earth” turns conventional thinking on its head. It is the same kind of radical Christly revelation shown in many of Jesus’ teachings:
- The welcoming home, instead of the punishing, of the reformed prodigal son.
- The healing of a man born blind and the related statement “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
- The statement he made before he gave his followers the Lord’s Prayer: “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matt. 6:8).
Jesus taught the reality and infinite value of the true identity we each have, unseen to the physical senses. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, devoted her life to bringing out the spiritual and healing meaning of Jesus’ words. “[T]he human concept,” she wrote, “never was, neither indeed can be, the father of man. Even the spiritual idea, or ideal man, is not a parent, though he reflects the infinity of good” (“Retrospection and Introspection,” p. 68).
So, as fathers we reflect the infinity of God, good, but we are not the source of that good. It’s in acknowledging the Creator, Father, in thought and action that both parent and child can see and be the reflectors of true, lasting good. Now that is a Father’s Day to celebrate!
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