I deeply appreciate moments of being theologically ‘wow-ed.’ One comes to mind every Father’s Day. Consider these words from Jesus in John 17 as our Lord makes ready to go to the Cross:
And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (Jn. 17:5)
There’s a big theological truth here that we see right away, namely that before everything was, God is. God – the Triune God of our faith – who eternally exists in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has always been. Indeed, one of the core assertions of our shared orthodox Christian belief is that God has always existed and has never come into being. Entirely distinct from His creation, He is the source of all life.
That’s certainly enough of a mind-bender to leave you speechless, but there’s another ‘wow,’ of this verse, and one that’s especially big for us to mull on this weekend: Jesus’s confession of relationship to the Father is also before the world existed. That means that the Father has always been the Father, and the Son always the Son. From eternity past well before creation, God has been a loving Father.
Why is this so much of a ‘wow’? Well, for starters, that means that when the Triune God creates life – matter, mountains, maple trees, marsupials, and then lastly mankind, His creation is often in analogues – representations of who He is and what He is like.
The Father has always been the Father, and the Son always the Son. From eternity past well before creation, God has been a loving Father.
In many respects, fatherhood is one of those analogues. We all have dads – good or bad ones – but every one of them is an imperfect analogue to God’s great Fatherhood. God the Father is the archetype Father, the one who perfectly loves, perfectly gives, perfectly protects, perfectly cares, perfectly hears, perfectly acts. Put simply, God creates fathers in part to actively demonstrate and lead us to what He is like and who He is. That’s the big ‘wow.’
On this Father’s Day weekend, it makes sense for us to celebrate the dads among us. Sports-watching, lawn-mowing, joke-telling, let-me-fix-that-for-you kind of men who have blessed us and given us so much. Imperfect though they are, we love the dads in our lives, and pray that God’s grace be upon them to lead them in brokenness to a deeper love and devotion for Christ. Maybe today is a day for a phone call, or a hug, or even a prayer of thanks for a dad who has gone home to the Lord after a job done well.
Just as much as it’s a good day, for many it’s more of a tough day. Perhaps the idea of “dad” brings up more painful than pleasant memories. Rather than the gains from our fathers, we’ve suffered a lot of loss and hurt. We’ve longed for the greeting card television dad, or even just a better father – one who loves, one who asks how we’re doing, or just one who is present. Father’s Day can be painful for many.
Either way, on this day of hurt or joy the analogues remind us to not only consider our dads, but also lift our eyes higher, and onto the glorious Heavenly Father we have because of Christ’s atoning work. Remember, all other dads – even the greatest ones on this earth – ultimately are only glimmers of God’s perfect fatherhood. May His love, His mercy, His favor, and His kindness draw all our hearts to Him today in a deeper thanksgiving and love.
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16).