In the Bible God is often referred to as Father. He is the father of Jesus Christ in a very personal and unique way. But Jesus taught us all to call God our father.
Read Matthew 6:5-15
God is a father to us in both the natural and spiritual sense. All human beings are God’s children, as he created us all in his image (Genesis 1:27). But Christians are children of God in another sense, because we have chosen to become part of his family through accepting the salvation he has offered us in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:11-17). As our father, God not only created us, but he loves us, continues to provide for us and forgives us our sins (Matthew 5:48). God also disciplines us (Hebrews 12:5-11). The picture of God as our father gives us some hints for what human fatherhood should be like.
Think of the man (or men) who have played the role of father in your life. Think about what you have learnt from your father. Consider the good qualities you admire about him. What does it show you about God’s attitude to his children? There are some people who have never known their biological father, or who have had a negative experience of a father. Sometimes this can make it diffi cult to relate to the idea of God as a father. If you are in such a situation think of other men (stepfathers, older brothers, friends of the family, grandfathers, youth leaders and church ministers) who have been a constant, supportive and positive infl uence in your life.
- What are the qualities of fatherhood evident in God? How can we model these to the children we care for?
- Is it necessary to be a biological father, in order to take on the role of a father? Are there any children or young people in our community who lack fathers? How can we help them?
- What is the role of a father in training a child? What responsibilities does a father have to a child? Do these include spiritual responsibilities? (Consider Genesis 18:19, Deuteronomy 6:6-7.)
- Colossians 3:21 says ‘Fathers, do not embitter (provoke, irritate) your children, or they become discouraged.’ What do you think is meant by this? How can a father create the atmosphere in which a child will flourish into maturity?
Remember that God is also described in the Bible as like a mother (Isaiah 66:13, Matthew 23:37). These questions could also be considered for the role of a mother, and apply to anyone who is caregiver to a child.
Rev Joe Kapolyo is a minister at Edmonton Baptist Church in London. He has previously worked as a Scripture Union Travelling Secretary in Zambia, a Baptist Minister in both Zambia and Zimbabwe, and a theological educator in Zambia, Zimbabwe and the UK. He was principal of the Theological College of Central Africa in Zambia and subsequently principal of All Nations Christians College in the UK.