First: Be a good father. Love your kids. Interact with your kids daily. Lead them. Provide for them. Protect them. Play with them. Learn with them. Pray with them. Often times we become just fathers that provide security and discipline only. But out of “Obedience” cannot derive love. But out of LOVE can derive Obedience.
If you are a father, you have a unique experience that no one else is able to fully grasp. You have the ability to see the relationship between children & father that no one else is able to have. Let’s start by understanding that there is NO SUCH THING as a “Fatherless Home”. Period. Zero. NONE. It simply doesn’t exist. Want to know why? Because GOD IS THE FATHER. He is the father of all. As a practical comparison:
Imagine a good father of a home that has children that love and obey the good father. The good father is fully recognized and loved.
Next door may be a family where the children don’t ever interact with their good father. Perhaps the kids don’t feel they identify with the good father and therefore avoid interaction with him. They recognize his presence – but never really appreciate him, spend time with him or honor him. Other than this, they may be normal children (respectful, never get in trouble in or out of the home, good grades in school, etc).
The 3rd scenario is that of children who outright disrespect their good father. When he says “left”, they go “right”…he says “up”…they say “down”. They are getting into trouble in life and have an aggressive distaste for their good father – and sometimes even denying the good father exists in the home or has any significant impact on their lives.
In all 3 of these household scenarios – the good father is present in their lives at all times. Even the children that deny him or despise him still benefit from his presence. The light bill is paid, there is food in the house, there is love to be shared. The good father is there even if the child doesn’t wish to recognize him, he is working in the child’s life even if they are rebelling against him. The good father continues to provide for and lead his family, whether the children are obedient, loving, denying, ignoring or even rebelling. The Good Father Is Still There. Still loving. Still Leading. Still Providing. Still Protecting.
Imagine a father that listed all the rules of the house on the refrigerator and demanded that each rule be followed in order for the child to eat for the day. Well, what’s one of the things we know about children? They don’t always follow all the rules, do they? Well, whether you want to admit it, deny it or rebel against it – we are ALL the children of God. As the children of God, imagine if we had a Father that listed all the rules (Commandments, Laws Of Moses, Teachings Of Jesus, Letters From Paul, etc.) and made the same ultimatum: “follow these rules or you do not eat for the day” or “break these rules and you do not receive my love for the day”. This would be a horrible time for all of us, God’s Children, don’t you think? This is a mentality that puts US in control of God’s Love. Just as the child doesn’t control the love of their father, based on “good deeds” – we do not control God’s love based on our actions. It is a backwards theology that we think we can control the decisions of God with our actions. If you love your father, you will obey his rules. It’s as simple as that. We don’t earn His love by obeying His rules. We obey them, because He loves us. His love is ever-present, and not contingent upon how obedient we are.
Good fathers: I have another question for you. When your child does wrong, should there be discipline? It can come in varying ways, depending on your parenting styles – spankings, time out, services, etc – but we’re not looking to debate method. We’re just wanting to come to the understanding that there are consequences for disobedience, yes? Often times there are God’s Children who think that “if I don’t believe in him, he doesn’t exist in my life” or “if I turn my back on him, he does the same” or “God is punishing me, how do I get Him to love me again?”. These are all FALSE. Let’s look back at the household application here. If your child disobeys you, and you discipline him – do you leave the house, never to return? Do you turn your back on him and leave him to figure life on his own? Do you no longer love your child? I’m asking these as rhetorical, because we should all already know the answer: NO. If you discipline your child, you do so OUT OF LOVE for them! Just as, if you’re walking with your child and they break out and start running for the street. Do you nicely and politely say “no honey, please don’t run out in that traffic…come on…stop that…” – no, you get your papa/mama-bear voice going and shout “STOP!!!!”. This may startle your child and cause them to cry that you yelled at them with such aggression. But did you say this out of anger or hate? No, in fact, you said this out of love and concern for your child. When God wants us to stop doing something sinful, we all want the nice and cozy response of “hey buddy, could you please cut that out…you know, when you feel like it”……(how do you think that would work for your child if they’re running out into an intersection?) – no, in fact, God says to us (in one fashion or another) “STOP SINNING!!!” – does God despise us? No! He loves us and is concerned with us in the same fashion that you would be if your child was running into traffic.
In conclusion: Be a good father to your children. Love them. Children who love their father, respect their father. Children who respect their father, are obedient to their father. Don’t get this backwards in your household. And more importantly, don’t get this backwards in your faith! No amount of “rule following” will get you to a point of LOVE. But start by loving God, our Father, and you will as result wish to be obedient to him. Will you fail? Yes! Often, in fact! But God will continue to love us, as our Father! And through the life, death & resurrection of Jesus Christ we are redeemed through repentance and the Grace of our Father is with us forever and ever!