I wish Jesus had been married. I wish he had fathered some children.
I know such a wish is full of theological pitfalls and problems, and would have led to disaster for the church. We probably would have tried to worship his children, and a whole sect of Christianity would have risen which claimed that to be a true child of God, you had to have some Jesus blood in your line. But still, with all the clamoring voices today and multitudes of books on how to be a good father, and how to balance marriage and ministry, I so often wish I had a definitive role model to go by.
At the bare minimum, Jesus could have written a book or two on How to Be a Husband and How to be a Father. But He didn’t.
Instead, He made some cryptic statements about hating our father, mother, sister, brother, wife, and children in order to become His disciples (Luke 14:26). I’m not sure I like this. So on second thought, maybe it’s good He didn’t write a book about marriage and family, for if He did, and it was full of statements like that, I’m not sure what I would do.
But in the absence of a book from Jesus on fathering and being a husband, how are we men to proceed? We don’t even have a “Far Above Rubies” description of the ideal man like women have in Proverbs 31. Instead, we get a bunch of guys who doubt God promises, sleep around with their servants, impregnate other men’s wives, and have children who rebel. Is there even one good role-model husband or dad in all of Scripture?
God knows how much we men need role-models, so why didn’t He give us one?
When I first began to look around for such a model, I was a new pastor at a church in Montana. As Father’s Day approached, I was looking for a good role model in Scripture to preach about, but I couldn’t find one. So I decided to preach on what not to do as a father by speaking about one of the worst fathers in Scripture—Lot.
So on that Father’s Day, I preached about how Lot took his family to Sodom and Gomorrah, tried to protect his angelic visitor by whoring out his daughters, and eventually wound up getting drunk and impregnating them himself in the caves near Zoar.
After the service that Sunday, a few of us from church went and enjoyed a meal in a local park. During the meal, the other father jokingly said, “Pastor, I think that was the worst Father’s Day sermon I have ever heard.”
We laughed about it, but he was right. Fathers need an uplifting example, a challenging example, an inspiring example. We don’t want to be surrounded by failure.
And yet, of the fathers we read about in Scripture, that is what we get. I suppose on one level, this is encouraging. It gives us hope that since even men of faith like Abraham, great leaders like Moses, and kings like David, all messed up, it’s okay when we mess up too. But on another level, it’s kind of discouraging. Isn’t there any role model we can look up all of the time?
And then one day it hit me. We do have an example of a perfect father in Scripture. And if we are looking for a challenge, someone to inspire us, lead us, correct us, and show us how it’s done, we could do no better than this father. Who is it?
None other than God our Father. He is the role-model father. He is strong and courageous, yet loving, gentle, and kind. He is firm and persistent, yet patient and generous. He stands up to evil to the point of sacrificing Himself to defeat it, yet defends and protects the weak and needy, the orphan and the widow. He deals with ordering the stars and guiding governments, but has all the time in the universe to listen to the needs and concerns of His children.
God is the perfect Father, and He is our role model. So what have you learned this week about God our Father? Are you watching Him so you can learn to be a better father yourself?
Jeremy is on Twitter @@jeremyers1. He works as a prison chaplain, but that’s just a job to pay the bills so that he can do what he really enjoys: spend time with his wife and three girls, read, write, and study.
Jeremy has several articles published in various theological journals, and is currently writing a book, which will hopefully get picked up for publication.
You can check out his blog Till He Comes here http://www.tillhecomes.org/