A God to Call Father
- How did your family celebrate birthdays when you were growing up? Do you duplicate any of these traditions as an adult?
- How has your relationship with one or both of your parents affected your relationships with others- both positively and negatively?
The relationship with our parents is the formative relationships in our lives. Our ability to relate to the world- the kind of spouse we are/going to be, the kind of son or daughter we are, the kind of friend we are- is wrapped up in the relationship with our mom and dad. No matter our current age or the age of our parents, this relationship can raise us up or tear us down, it can empower or inflict deep pain, it can be what we want to reproduce or what we want to run away from.
One of the primary themes throughout Scripture is the picture of God as our father. This can be a very powerful image, depending upon how we feel about our dads. The enemy understands this. Satan knows God is a perfect father- a heavenly father- and if he can damage the relationship with our earthly fathers then he can put us at a disadvantage in fully understanding who God is, how he thinks of us, and what our relationship to him should be.
- How do you relate to the “God as father” language in the Bible? Is it helpful or difficult to comprehend? Why?
To better understand God as father, and thus see the relationship with our parents more clearly, there are a few truths from Scripture that are very helpful:
There needs to be no baggage when thinking of God as our father
For some, the idea of God as father is unsettling- it brings to mind thoughts of brokenness, absence, performance-based acceptance, neediness, and abuse. God is not a bigger version of our earthly dads, or a reflection of our earthly dads, but a perfection of our earthly dads. He is the version of our dads that we long for deep within our hearts, because he is a father who has promised “I will never leave you or forsake you.” The apostle John put it this way:
See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called Godʼs children - and indeed we are! I John 3:1
How great is the exclamation point at the end of John’s statement? God’s love for us is so great that we are now by nature and by identity loved sons or daughters of a perfect, heavenly father!
We can either reinforce what’s broken in our lives, or we can be a part of reversing the curse and leaning into what can be
When we have significant relationship issues with our parents it leaves us with deficits in our lives. When we have deficits in our lives, we lean or gravitate toward the negative side of the story: “the reason I’m like this is because of my mom and/or dad.”
Jesus came to reverse every curse against our lives (Galatians 3:13-14), grafting us into a new story with a new father and a new future. So when we look at our deficits, we have two choices: we can reinforce the old story and all the reasons our deficits exist, or we can reverse the curse and lean into the truth of what it means to be a child of God.
The power of the gospel is that we can be the reflection God’s love to our parents
Even if our parents are not the reflection of God’s love to us. Recall Ephesians 6:2-3.
“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment accompanied by a promise, namely, “that it may go well with you and that you will live a long time on the earth.”
There is no loophole when it comes to honoring our parents. There is no disqualification when it comes to honoring our parents. There is no age limit when it comes to honoring our parents. According to Paul, there is fullness and freedom in this life when we honor our parents.
The gospel is bigger than the most hurtful and damaging relationships on earth, even the one with our parents. The gospel is powerful enough to bring healing into our relationships with our parents, no matter how damaged those relationships might be. Thank you, Heavenly Father.
- In what ways can a restored relationship with parents attract others to Jesus? How can it demonstrate the power of God to others?
If you or your group wish to further explore this week’s topic:
- What does it mean specifically in your life to “honor your father and mother”? What is one practical way you can honor them?
- Read Exodus 20:1-17 (the 10 commandments passage) and notice how many include some reference to parents and children. What conclusions can be drawn from this?