To all of the dads out there who read ABF, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day! I hope you get a large hunk of beef critter, place it near open flame until it is appropriately flame-seared (which would be medium-rare for the record), and then get to enjoy it thoroughly with your family. Soon enough I will be doing just that!
I was reminded this week in my study of 2 Timothy 1:1-10 that God’s definition of a dad and ours doesn’t always match up. I am also reminded that this is a very, very good thing! Allow me to explain. First, Paul thinks of Timothy as his son:
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. ” (2 Timothy 1:1–2)
Paul calls Timothy his “beloved son” in 2 Tim 1:2. We know from 1 Corinthians 4:17 and Philippians 2:19-24 that Paul and Timothy were very close friends and ministry companions; we also know from Acts 16:1 that when Paul met Timothy that he was already a believer in Christ and an adult. So Paul is not biologically related to Timothy! Nevertheless, they were so close that Paul considered him a son.
So God’s definition of a father is not always the world’s definition. Whereas the world says that a father is the man who gives us our genetic code, God says that a father is a man who cares for us, encourages us, leads us, and provides us an example of godliness regardless of genetic links between us. The biblical definition of a dad does not require blood relation, but care and love and commitment.
I am really grateful for this. The man who donated his genes to me is a stranger to me. He and my mom divorced when I was a baby, and I haven’t seen or heard from him since my 5th birthday. I was in a position to be a statistic (such as the fact that about 85% of men in prison effectively have no father), but in my case I was never without a father figure who could provide that example for me. We lived with my grandparents when I was little, so my grandpa provided a great example of dad for me. My uncle filled a need for a loving man in my life for a long time. And then in the best example, my mom married a wonderful man when I was six who actually adopted me as his own and even gave me his last name!
This is God’s true picture of fatherhood; it’s more about adoption than it is about flesh and blood. We all begin life alienated from God and hostile to Him (Colossians 1:21). However, when we trust Christ we are adopted by God as His children (Galatians 4:5)! He takes those who were not His children and adopts Him into His family (Ephesians 1:5), giving us a spirit and a position in His family by which we can call Him our Father (Romans 8:15). God is our adopted Father who loves us unconditionally and gives us everything we could ever ask for as children.
What does that mean for us? Well first of all, make sure you talk to your Heavenly Father today and thank Him for your adoption and for His love for you. Take some time and thank the Lord for His care for you and love for you, bringing you into His family and blessing you with every blessing you have.
Secondly, this understanding of biblical fatherhood really speaks to those of us who do not have great fathers here on earth. Whether your “real” dad is a good example or not, you have been adopted into the family of the King! Even when our earthly fathers fail us, our Heavenly Father never will. And if your dad hasn’t been a great example, you can likely point to wonderful, godly men who have filled that role in your life and been sent from God to help you live for Him.
Finally, if you haven’t found a man who can be this in your life, rest in God today that He loves you unconditionally, and also rest in the truth that He wants you to have a man in your life who you can relate to as father. Then set about finding that man so you can have an earthly relationship that mirrors your heavenly one.
Happy Father’s Day, dad! Also, a Happy Father’s Day to some other men who have been fathers to me: Grandpa Bob, Uncle Jeff, Dr. F. Olden Pittman, and Dr. Fred Chay. I appreciate you men more than you know.