Summary: God demonstrates his fatherhood by defending us, disciplining us, and being devoted to us.
Note: The title of this sermon came from a series by Rick Warren; however, the content is original.
This morning, we conclude a nine week series, in which we’ve been examining how God meets our fundamental human needs – our needs for things like hope and healing, for peace and power. We’ve considered how we can strengthen our trust in God to meet those needs, regardless of what our circumstances may be. This morning, we’re going to be looking at this question: "What kind of father is God?" Why is that question important? And why is it especially important to this issue of how God meets our deepest needs?
First of all, God’s identity as a father – as our father – is important because it’s how he chose to characterize his relationship to us. It’s not just a description that was dreamed up by preachers or theologians. I could stand up here this morning, and say, for example, "God is like a favorite uncle". Perhaps I could use that "uncle-nephew" analogy to highlight some important truths about God. It might even turn into pretty good sermon. But likening God to an uncle would still be just a human comparison. Because the Bible never refers to him in that way. The Lord’s Prayer, for example, doesn’t begin with the words, "Our uncle in heaven, hallowed be your name," but rather "Our Father in heaven." No, among all the human relationships he could have chosen as a metaphor for his relationship with us, he chose this one, "Father". There was something significant that God wanted to communicate by his choice of this title.
In fact, I’ll go even farther. God purposely designed human fatherhood to be an illustration of his relationship to us. The whole reason that God even created something called "fathers" was so that we could better understand who he is. In other words, it wasn’t as if God looked around at all the different kinds of human relationships he had created – father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin – and finally settled on this one as being the most similar to his relationship with his people. No. It goes back farther than that. In the very beginning, God fashioned the family, and the role of the father in the family, to serve as a living picture of who he is. Therefore, when he refers to himself as our "father," it is not arbitrary or unimportant. It is highly intentional. It has great significance. And by the way, that’s why contemporary assaults on the Biblical view of the family are so destructive. Not just because they harm the people involved, who usually find that alternative forms of family structure don’t work very well. But also because they obscure the picture of God that human fatherhood was intended to reveal. They make it harder for people to understand what God is like.
Let’s look at just a few of the instances in which the Scriptures refer to God as our Father. First, in the Old Testament we see the prophets referring to God as our Father:
"[Y]ou, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. " – Isaiah 63:16