Christianity 201

January 18, 2016

Understanding God’s Love When Your Earthly Father is Less Than Perfect

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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The Voice, Gal. 4:4 When the right time arrived, God sent His Son into this world (born of a woman, subject to the law) to free those who, just like Him, were subject to the law. Ultimately He wanted us all to be adopted as sons and daughters. Because you are now part of God’s family, He sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts; and the Spirit calls out, “Abba, Father.”

I wrote the title for today’s devotional five different ways before settling on what you see above. I know this is an issue that many wrestle with and if you’re in the category of people whose earthly father provided a great analogy to your heavenly Father, please know that this is not true for everyone. Truthfully, the image of God as father is something that can be a barrier to some embracing the Good News. It’s something that apologists need to know how to work around when counseling someone who is blocked by a mental picture they can’t overcome. The article below only begins to initiate our thinking on this topic; feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

Today’s devotional is actually a sample of an online devotional app for a variety of devices, Beyond Bible Devotion, which I believe is produced by Salem Media.

Beyond Bible Devotion

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all–how will he not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

I hear about and know of children who honestly think their fathers are the epitome of perfection. As far these children are concerned, their fathers are invincible heroes and they either want to be exactly like them, or marry someone just like them. The thought of this warms my heart, yet at the same time stings a little, too. Even looking back as far as I can remember, there was never a time in my life that I saw my (earthly) father this way. Please let me preface this by saying I mean no disrespect in what I share regarding my father. I love him almost to the point of it hurting. Despite all the dysfunction, I have NEVER doubted his love for me, not in the slightest. But the truth is, his destructive drinking wrecked havoc on just about every aspect of our family and cost my siblings and me any chance of experiencing a carefree childhood. Out of his warped perception of parenting, my dad never set appropriate boundaries, much less disciplined us in a way children need. And I don’t know what was worse, his drinking or the fact that he showed more respect to strangers than he did to my mom.

Despite all that, we knew he loved us and continues to love us with every bit of his broken heart. There was nothing of himself he wouldn’t have sacrificed on our behalf. No question about it. Yet what baffles me is how I can be so confident of my very imperfect earthly father’s love for me; but continue to have such a skewed perception of my perfect Heavenly Father’s love, when He Himself is the embodiment of love?

Assurance of the Lord’s unconditional love is the most significant determining factor in our relationship with Christ. It sets the pace for every aspect of this journey of faith. How we see ourselves; the manner in which we treat others; the decisions we make; the passion with which we live…just to name a few. This is only a personal conjecture, but I wonder if it’s because it’s easier for a flawed person to believe she is loved by another flawed person. After all, what business would a perfect person have loving someone who is horribly imperfect? It’s almost like a woman who has only known a life of drugs, abuse and prostitution, to hear that she is being pursued by a royal prince. Are you kidding? Even if it was true, she wouldn’t know the first thing about how to conduct herself with someone so seemingly perfect. It would be much easier and less nerve-racking to stay with her deadbeat boyfriend because compared to him, she’s practically a saint.

I don’t know. Is it possible that the Lord could understand how and why we constantly have such a hard time believing He really loves us? I can’t wrap my mind around it. It’s easier for me to think He took me in because He felt sorry for me, not because He wanted to make me His bride. But that’s not the case, and it possibly even diminishes the value of His sacrifice.

Heavenly Father, I realize that my lack of faith in Your love for me stands as the biggest obstacle in this relationship with You. You know me, Father. Nothing is a surprise to You. You know that my faith here is shaky, but I so want to believe. Like the man who was desperate for Christ to heal his demon-possessed child, I, too, cry out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Related: C201, August 2011: Adopting Wrong Views of God