The love of a father

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This morning, while driving with my toddler in the back seat, I looked at her in the rearview mirror and suddenly felt this swell of affection for her. I smiled. She wasn’t doing anything. In fact, thirty seconds before that glance, she had been defiantly disobeying me. Nevertheless, in that moment, prompted by nothing except the fact that she was there and is my daughter, I felt a gut-deep affection for her.

Is it possible that God feels something like that when he looks at us? Some of us can hardly believe it. Some only know, experientially, fatherly displeasure, or even fatherly absence. Jesus knows God as Father more intimately than we know our earthly fathers, and he explains to us what God is like as our Father (John 1:18). While God loves all people in some way, it seems that he has a special fatherly affection for those who love and follow his Son, Jesus (John 14:21-23). He loves his adopted children as he loves his eternal Son (John 17:23).

Jesus goes further than merely asserting God’s love for us; he also pictures it in the parable that describes how a loving father treated his prodigal son, his son who had abandoned him, taking his inheritance early, treating his father like he were dead, and bringing shame to the family name, squandering his fortune with reckless living (Luke 15:10-13). When this son admitted his folly and returned home to his father, Jesus describes this father’s response: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). Jesus implies that the father was regularly looking down the driveway, eagerly anticipating his son’s return.

Jesus shows us God’s posture toward his children; no matter how we might rebel, our Father is eager to run to us, to have our intimacy restored. When he sees a person turning toward him away from their sin, no matter what kind of sin, he feels compassion, a gut-deep feeling of affection that moves him to come close to us.

Mr. Justin Langley is Minister of Discipleship of Kilgore Bible Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.kilgorebiblechurch.org.

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