Some of us have wonderful memories of our
childhood and our fathers. But for others, fatherhood
is a painful thought. For some, their dads were not
very good to them, and they live with the scars from
that: the hurt, the wounds, the damage.
Still, for others, it wasn’t that dad was bad or
good—he was just gone. He was absent, either
physically or, perhaps worse, emotionally. For a few,
dad wasn’t a part of their lives because of death, and
they may have struggled with the feeling of having
been abandoned, even though they know it wasn’t
their fault. Speaking to the theme of fatherhood will
indeed strike a deep chord in your heart, either painful
And yet here is the good news of the gospel:
Jesus Christ helps us know God as our Father, not
just our Father, but our everlasting Father, One who
will never leave nor forsake us, One who is always
there for us, One who has us in the palm of His hand
for ever and ever.
In fact, it is the distinctive mark and privilege of
a Christian to know God as everlasting Father. This
is at the heart of what it means to be a follower of
Jesus. You know God as Father. You don’t grope in
the dark looking for some higher spiritual power or
chase after some false and fickle deity. No, because
of Jesus, this child to be born, this Son to be given
(Is. 9:1-7), you confess that “there is but one God,
the Father, from whom all things came and for whom
we live” (1 Cor. 8:6).
I. WE ONLY RELATE TO GOD AS FATHER
Jesus enjoys a unique relationship with God.
But here’s the truly beautiful thing: Because of what
Jesus has done for us—in His life, death, and resurrection—He
enables us to enter into a relationship
with God as our Father: indeed, our everlasting
He opens the way to us through adoption. We
only know God as Father because of Jesus Christ His
Son, and because He sends His Spirit into our hearts
to enfold us into the family of God as children of the
heavenly Father (Matt. 11:25-27).
Some of you know that within the adoption
community, a wonderful phrase is used to talk about
the hope that adoptive families provide for orphaned
children. Many orphans will be passed from family
to family, sometimes three, four, or more times—
which is very difficult for the child, leaving them
with a profound sense of insecurity and uncertainty
about their place and value in the world.
Adoptive families now talk about being the
forever family for these children. The bond of adoption,
while not the same as the bond of blood and
biology, is nevertheless just as permanent.
Did you know that God has a forever family,
of which He is everlasting Father? Our adoption is
guaranteed for all eternity; we are, by faith in Jesus,
part of God’s forever family.
II. THE BENEFITS OF BEING ADOPTED CHILDREN
Becoming a child of God is the highest privilege
and honor that can be imagined. Because of
it, we have a new relationship with God and a new
standing before Him.
Being a child of God, adopted “through faith in
Christ Jesus” is the source for our hope, the security
of our future and the motivation to “walk worthy of
the calling with which you were called” (Eph. 4:1).
As children of the King of Kings and Lord of
Lords, we are called to a higher standard, a different
way of life and a greater hope.
As we come to understand the true nature of
God as revealed in the Bible, we should be amazed
that He not only allows us, but even encourages us,
to call Him “Abba Father.” It is amazing that a holy
and righteous God, who created and sustains all
things, who is the only all-powerful, all-knowing,
ever-present God, would allow sinful humans to call
III. JESUS TEACHES US TO PRAY: “OUR FATHER!”
To know God as your everlasting Father is a
privilege beyond description! I love the way 1 John
puts it, with the right sense of wonder and amazement:
“See what great love the Father has lavished
on us, that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!” (3:1). What a privilege,
what a gift, what a grace!
When you know God as Father, not simply as a
cosmic force, it changes the way you address God;
it changes the way you pray. You learn to look to the
Father in prayer with a childlike boldness. This is
how Jesus taught us to pray.
But we also learn to approach God in prayer
with vulnerable dependence: that is, when we find
ourselves in a difficult spot—pain, fear, doubt,
or hardship—we learn to cry out to God with the
words, “Abba, Father!” (Matt. 7:7-11).
Often, when difficulty comes into the life of a
Christian, they can feel like God is farther away, less
available, or less intimate. But don’t miss the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when
He prayed in this way: “Abba, Father … everything
is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not
what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36; Rom.
Recently, Mohamed El-Erian, the CEO of an
investment company that manages over one trillion
dollars in assets made news when he quit his
job. He didn’t leave because of a shady business
deal or corporate conflicts. He left for his family. His
daughter was starting to be rebellious and when
questioned about why she wasn’t listening, she
came back with a list of over 20 times in the last few
months when her father had chosen work over her.
El-Erian had valid reasons for missing her
first day of school, the many soccer matches, and
parent-teacher conferences. Travel, important meetings,
and emergency situations were to be expected
because he ran an international company. Making
work a priority was helping the business grow, but
at what cost? He realized that he no longer had a
relationship with his daughter—someone he loved
very much. Someone who was counting on him to
be there. When he realized the true cost of his job,
El-Erian quit so he could focus on being a dad.1
Just like El-Erian, God is a father. But even
though He is the father to every person on earth,
He is the daddy that will never miss anything in our
lives. God is always there. God was there when you
were born, learned to walk, and tied your shoes.
He was there for your first day of school, first date,
and first break up. He was there when you were
baptized and when your parents passed away. He
rejoices when you rejoice and cries with you in
your sorrows. He sits with you in the hospital room
when you have your first child and when you are
diagnosed with cancer. He was there to lead you
to your job and introduce you to your friends. He
was with you when you got married, when you celebrated
your 25th anniversary, or in your singleness.
He delights in being by your side in good times and
bad, in trials and victories. God—the everlasting
Father— is always with you!
Mohamed A. El-Erian, “Father and Daughter Reunion,”
(accessed October 15, 2014).
S. Joseph Kidder is a professor of Christian ministry
and biblical spirituality at the Andrews University
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
in Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA.