For you trivia buffs, 2008 marks the 100th anniversary of the modern Father's Day tradition, which traces its roots back to a service in a West-Virginian Methodist church in (do the math) 1908. So as traditions go, this one is relatively young, but still, that's a lot of Sarsaparilla and screwdrivers.
As an experiment, I fed the word "Father" into one of the online Bible search engines, and promptly received an error message: "Your search found over 1000 verses. Please try adding more words or letters." No, that's alright. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I've learned something else. (As Jack Sparrow would say, "That's interesting!") Biblically speaking, fatherhood is not a specialty subject - it is an abiding theme.
The Bible is chock full of unapologetic celebrations of history and relationship, commonly called genealogies. There's a big one in Numbers, and another big one in 1 Chronicles. You know how it goes: you're reading along through the Bible, minding your own business, and then you glance ahead a couple chapters and go "Uh-oh."
Our trouble with genealogies is that we read them as lists of names instead of lists of people. Think about it. Your name merely identifies who you are. It is not YOU. All those lists of "names" are chains of people who actually lived - people who built houses, fell in love, made mistakes, ate corn-on-the-cob, laughed and cried. They were fathers, sons, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers, and daughters. They were rich, poor, smart, stupid, hilarious, melancholy, practical. They were real.
God has made history linear, and He chose to do it with fathers. To put it in the popular modern form of self-evident redundancy, "If it wasn't for your father, you wouldn't be here." It's a special kind of relationship, and really, it makes perfect sense: deriving your existence from someone ought to create a special kind of relationship.
Rather significantly, the Father-Son relationship is the only relationship explicitly contained in the Godhead. This observation tells us several things, namely:
1. Fatherhood is a direct expression of the divine nature. (Matthew 5:48, 18:10)
2. Fatherhood is intended to be intimate. (Philippians 2:22, John 8:28-29, 10:30)
3. God is the perfect Father. (Luke 11:11-13, Hebrews 12:9-10)
Selah, and feel free to add your own observations to the list.
The ultimate Father's Day gift is found in Proverbs 15:20: "A wise son/daughter makes a glad father." The beloved disciple further affirms this in 3 John 4: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." On this centennial Father's Day, let's give our fathers the gift of a righteous legacy. We are writing history right now; every moment we are faced with the choice between faithfulness and frivolity. History is much larger than any of us, and it is our responsibility to do our part, even when we don't understand it. This question should ring in our hearts every day: "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.(Matthew 6:9-10)
Image courtesy of everything-daddy.com