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If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.
Today is Father’s Day in the United States of America. It’s the day that we set aside to reflect on the impact of fatherhood in society. But what is the proper gift for a father? As a child I remember always struggling to find a suitable gift for my Dad. Every time my brother and I would ask him what he wanted, the answer was almost always “Nothing”. Undoubtedly this was because when it came to material things, he either already had it or my brother and I couldn’t afford it. Yet if I had more money it still wouldn’t be adequate enough to express my appreciation to him. You see, I don’t just have a biological father, I have a true father. He’s been a mentor, a model, the one who taught me how to worship, one who taught me how to be responsible and accountable… and while all of these lessons could have been expressed verbally, he often did so by setting the example. Everyone has a biological father, but when you have been truly fathered, it is a positive and life-giving experience that should never be taken for granted.
142 countries celebrate Father’s Day. Each nation has its own way of showing appreciation to their patriarchs, with a wide array of traditions and cultural expressions. However, one thing that is universal is a particular desire of fathers or father-figures, not to receive presents, but rather to leave legacies and see their ideals passed on to their children. They want to be remembered through the lives of their progeny. They don’t only want their sons and daughters to look like them, but also to carry on the foundational principles that they have been taught.
Society teaches us to honor our elders; the Scripture instructs us in the practice of honoring our fathers and mothers. When we speak of honor, in most cultures it has everything to do with preserving and building on the family name. To bring shame and improper attention to the name and image of a father is to dishonor their legacy and everything that they stand for. On the other hand, a child can bring honor to their fathers by embodying the good ideals that characterized the essence of their patriarchs.
Perhaps this is what Jesus was doing when he stated “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on you do know him and have seen him”. The bond between God the Father and Jesus the Son was so strong that people could identify the characteristics of God by following and watching Jesus. Our Savior was showing us the best way to honor God the Father and all fathers. In fact, Jesus’ entire life was a series of tributes to his Father. In discussion with the Jews, Jesus makes clear his dependency on the instructions and teachings of God when he declares “I do nothing on my own, but speak just what the Father has taught me” (John 8:28). God was not visible to humanity, so Jesus served as the embodiment and revelation of the Father on earth.
I sometimes wonder how well I honor my own biological father. Do I accurately embody the positive and powerful aspects of his life? What does my life say about Milton Wells? Am I ensuring that my daily life choices serve as a tribute for the time and love that he invested in me? By all means, we should give our fathers material tokens of our appreciation for the integral roles that they have played in our lives. However, what is of far greater value is the way that we honor them – preserving their legacy. On this Father’s Day, may we build our lives in ways that serve as tributes to God the Father and the father figures that he has placed in our lives.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Who are the father figures in your life?
In what ways can you preserve the legacy and lessons that they taught you?
What does your life say about God the Father?
What does your life say about your father-figures?
Lord, today we honor fathers and the institution of fatherhood. We first acknowledge you as the Father of all things. Thank you for never leaving us, and always teaching us with such love and intentionality. We pray that we would be the living epistles of the lessons that you have taught us.
Father, we also pray a special prayer of strength for the father-figures that you have placed in our lives. Reward them for all the strength, love, wisdom, and correction that they have given us. Encourage them that their labor has not been in vain, and that you honor their efforts in partnering with you to raise us.
Today we renew our commitment to live our lives in ways that honor you and our earthly fathers. May people see you through our lives. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
Explore online Bible commentary for John 14-17 at the Theology of Work Project.
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