|The power of 'Our Father' as well as earthly fathers|
|Written by By BILL RYAN Sentinel Religion Editor|
|Friday, 15 June 2012 09:11|
(Editor's note: With Father's Day being observed on Sunday, this week's focus is on fathers, divine and on Earth.)
"Our Father which (who) art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, ..." thus begins the most common prayer on Earth, the Lord's Prayer. Another translation simply reads, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed by thy name ..."
Most biblical scholars consider this prayer being given by Jesus to his disciples when they asked how they should pray. Because of those circumstances, some theologians regard this as an instruction, rather than used as it is commonly done, as a prayer to be memorized and recited.
Either way, it shows the relational connection of Jesus Christ with God. Jesus called God, "Father."
Some may minimize the exclusively male moniker for God, however, as children of God, most people are very comfortable referring to God as "Father."
Both mothers and fathers know how much respect they expect from their children, thus, children of God need to give that and more to their heavenly Father.
The Bible is filled with "fatherly" references including the fifth commandment which states, "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12
The commandment is also referenced in Ephesians 6:2, where it notes it is the first commandment with a promise.
As with God, there is a certain amount of honor and respect which is due to our parents, simply because of their position. They gave us life and in most cases, properly raised us to be good adults.
Unlike God, some parents lose their right to be respected. As Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a popular author and talk show host frequently says, such a parent "tore up their parenting card."
God gives parents authority over their children, but that authority needs to be handled with God-like patience and wisdom. Those blessed with children of any age know all too well, the role of a parent is not an easy one.
In addition to the biblical directive of honoring the previous generation, the Bible also instructs fathers and mothers on how to love their children.
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it," (Proverbs 22:6) "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord," (Ephesians 6:4) and "Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged< (Colossians 3:21) are just three short examples.
Scripture is also filled with people we can learn much from. When it comes to the challenging vocation of fatherhood, several fathers in the Bible show modern-day parents what is the proper course to follow.
Among those biblical men let's look at a few.
Adam, as the first man named, is also the first father. He had no example other than God. Though many consider him a failure based on his actions that plunged the world into sin, he still can be a role model as he had to face one of his sons killing the other. He can teach us about consequences of our actions and the need to obey God.
An ancient predecessor of "Mission: Impossible," God gave Abraham the nearly impossible mission of being the father of an entire nation? His response was to show tremendous faith and passed a very difficult test given to him by God, when asked to sacrifice his son. He is widely considered to have possessed qualities any father would be wise to develop.
Abraham's son, Isaac, also possesses qualities worthy to embody. Despite his father offering him up as a sacrifice, Isaac learned valuable lessons about trusting God and also became a trusted father in the Bible.
Noah, by all accounts is considered a righteous man who stood out because of his steadfast faith in God. This, despite all the wickedness around him. Like most humans, he was far from perfect, yet he was humble and protective of his family.
There are numerous others including, Jacob, Moses, King David, the father in the parable of the prodigal son, etc.
And then there is Joseph, Mary's husband who took on the earthly role of being the father of Jesus.
What energy, power and trust in God it took for Joseph to become the foster parent of the Lord. He taught him his carpentry trade, saw to his education and may be the biggest unsung hero of the Bible.
Ultimately, God the Father, is the optimum role model for all humans, not just fathers and mothers. God's love, kindness, patience, wisdom, and protectiveness are impossible standards to live up to. No human can fully emulate all those characteristics.
Our goal as children of God is to strive to come as close as possible.
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