Summary: God demonstrates his fatherhood by defending us, disciplining us, and being devoted to us.
Some of you probably grew up with fathers who came far short of the ideal. Fathers who were cold, distant and disengaged. Fathers who were angry, critical and controlling. Fathers who were alcoholic, or depressed, or physically abusive. Fathers whose own inner struggles sapped all their strength, leaving them with little left over to care for your needs. And that has impacted your ability to trust God as your heavenly Father. Even the best of fathers, with the best of intentions, often miss the mark. Those of us who are fathers know that all too well. In spite of our best efforts, we often fail to be what God would have us to be. We act selfishly and sinfully. We fail to love our children as we should. It grieves us to admit that, but it’s true. We are struggling sinners, even the best of us, and we know that the picture of God’s fatherhood that our life is painting for our children is far from perfect.
In addition, our society has largely abandoned God’s pattern for family relationships. The Biblical view of male leadership in the home is not only rejected, but mocked and ridiculed. And we can see the results all around us. Men in their 40’s and 50’s who’ve never grown up; who won’t take responsibility for anything. Confused, angry adolescents who have no idea of what it means to be a man. Macho jerks who equate masculinity with violence. In the news this week, there was a story about a gang of boys in Milwaukee who hunted down and beat to death a man named Charlie Young. One of the boys was only ten years old. The rest were in their early to mid teens. When I see something like that, I think to myself, "where were their fathers?" How did these boys get so twisted around that this kind of brutal, vicious behavior seemed normal?
Here’s my point: The view of God’s fatherhood that we received from our own fathers was flawed and imperfect. We certainly can’t rely on our culture to give us a true picture of fatherhood. So what do we do? Where can we go to get a clear view of what it means for God to be a Father? We go to the Scriptures. Because they alone are completely true, and reliable, and trustworthy. So let’s do that. This morning I want to focus on three things God does which clearly reflect his fatherhood. First, he defends us; second, he disciplines us; and third, he is absolutely devoted to us.
We’ll begin with the fact that God defends us. Can you imagine any father watching his son or daughter be attacked, and doing nothing to stop it? Of course not. And neither will God. God is always for us; always on our side. Now, it’s not politically correct these days to speak of God as a warrior. Some Christians seem embarrassed by the God of the Old Testament, who led his people into battle against their enemies. Some publishers have even removed hymns like "Onward Christian Soldiers" from their hymnals because they sound too militaristic. But God is committed to defending and protecting his people. And that involves a readiness to do battle. He will not abandon us; He will not retreat from the conflict. He will stand and fight. And he will be victorious. Now, let me make myself clear. I’m not talking about a literal battlefield. I’m not talking about God giving America victory over Iraq. I hope he will, but that’s not what I’m talking about. No, the battles I’m talking about are spiritual ones. I’m talking about God giving you and I victory against the spiritual forces which are arrayed against us.