Recently, several people within our church—those who had experienced poor relationships with their fathers—asked me to stand in as a loving, father figure and offer a blessing over them. The blessing asked forgiveness for the ways a father can hurt his children by setting expectations that are too high or being distant or failing to offer tender presence and affirmation. It also pronounced delight, admiration, and abundant love. As I shared the blessing, I wept. I realized how I still needed to receive such words, and how much my children need them too.
The Scriptures repeatedly speak of God as our Father, a reality reshaping the distorted father images we might have. God, our eternal Father, has “lavished on us” perfect love, making us “children of God” (1 John 3:1). Our identity as God’s sons and daughters grounds us in an uncertain, fear-inducing world. “We are children of God,” John says, even though “what we will be has not yet been made known” (v. 2). Facing ever-present challenges, all we can truly count on is that our Father loves and provides for us and never stops. When everything is said and done, God says through the inspired words of John, we can be certain we’ll be like Him (v. 2).
In the midst of our anxieties, wounds, and failures, our good Father speaks a blessing of inexhaustible love. God insists we belong, for He’s made us His children.
A believer’s life is a father-child relationship, the most basic and embryonic of all love relationships. God loves us not because we’re worthy of His love, but simply because it’s His nature to love (Exodus 34:6–7). The apostle John simply puts it, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). Jesus taught us to talk with God who is “our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). We’re privileged and empowered by the Holy Spirit to call Him “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15–16; Galatians 4:6). This term is a name of endearment and intimacy. One writer says that God has many names but Abba Father is his favorite name for God. Calling Him “Abba, Father” authenticates our salvation, for we become children of God through Jesus (John 1:12; Galatians 3:26). Our status as His children entitles us to a spiritual inheritance as God’s heirs (Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7).