Father’s Day Preaching: Good Man, or Good God?

Just a quick post as Father’s Day is approaching (at least in the US and UK).  If you are preaching this weekend, what are you preaching?

Are you preaching about how to be a good man?  Or are you preaching a Christian message?  Uh?  Ok, deliberately inflammatory way of phrasing it, but still, let’s ponder it.  How often do we take a God-centred Bible text (for it all is), and turn it into a man-centred moral tale?  I suppose Father’s Day is a really ripe opportunity to preach moralism, or to preach legalism, or to preach sanctified humanism.

Be like Abraham.  Don’t be like Abraham. Be like Jairus.  Don’t be like David.  Be like Joseph.  Be good.  Try harder.  Be better.  Demonstrate discipline.  Have integrity. Don’t fail.  Do try.  Don’t fall short.  Do be perfect.

But with all the plethora of possible Father’s Day narratives, let’s not miss that God is involved in every one of them.  The Bible is not an anthology of tales with morals to put Aesop in the shadows.  The Bible is the revelation of God’s heart and human response to that.  By all means preach of a human father, good or bad.  Affirm, encourage, train and exhort the Dads in the congregation.  But do so in the context of a life of faith.  No child should have to cope with a father who is good in his own strength.

Oh, and there’s the greater dimension behind it all.  God knows what a Father should be, because He has always been just that.  Not just for our sake.  Not a temporary mask for the sake of puny humanity.  Not a functional label hiding an entirely unknowable reality.  God knows what it is to be Father and what it is to be Son, for He is eternally both.  Why not let your church taste of the gripping reality of God as Trinity this Sunday?  Surely nothing can lift the hearts of fathers like a glimpse of the true Father.

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