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What Father's Day Tells Us About God

Is there a deeper meaning to Father's Day? The holiday wasn't made permanent until 1972 because Americans feared that celebrating fathers would also be commercialized as a "second Christmas." But fatherhood is not just a central aspect of well-being, it also says something vitally important about the person who made the universe.

In Romans 8, Paul the Apostle writes, "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs."

The theme of adoption is central to Christianity, and through adoption sinful men and women can call the God who made the world "father," and not just the generic word "father," but a word denoting closeness.

"Abba" is an Aramaic word which means more than "father." It was an intimate word, often translated "daddy." Only sons and daughters could refer to the head of the household using this word — servants or slaves were not allowed to do so.

Paul uses the word twice, once in Romans 8 and once in Galatians 4, and both times he emphasizes that each Christian is "no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God." (In ancient Roman and Israelite law, daughters would not inherit property in the same way as sons. Paul is not being misogynist here, and he is clear that women too become "sons" in receiving the inheritance of God.)

In Christian theology, God's fatherhood is the supreme revelation of His character. Not only is Jesus Christ the only Son of God, but those who believe in Jesus become God's children as well, born "not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13).

God first revealed Himself to Abraham, and then to the Jewish people. He showed Himself as the Holy One, and to this day Jews do not even speak His name.

Unlike the other religions in Mesopotamia, the Hebrews presented their God as the actual creator behind everything, not just the one who ordered creation. This Creator God was so far above His creation that when He chose a people, they had to be holy, and when He dwelt in the Ark of the Covenant, any man who touched the Ark would be instantly struck dead (2 Samuel 6:7).

For Jesus to call Himself the Son of God was blasphemy, and He was killed for it. But He died to offer that very sonship to others, and rose again to prove His promise.