FATHERS DAY MESSAGE

ARCHBISHOP AND PRESIDING PRELATE

Sir GODFREY GREGG

“All fathers — even ones who are not Christians — are created to imitate His goodness.” — Archbishop Frank Simon

Fathers Are Intended to Be Earthly Mirrors of a Heavenly Reality

The Bible says our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

Over the years, God has shown us that the attack on the institution of fatherhood and the strategy to make fathers unloving and ineffective is a primary goal of Satan himself. Why? Because if fathers are distant, distracted, disconnected, or even abusive, children will believe all fathers are this way, even a heavenly Father who claims to love them unconditionally. Earlier this year I heard a woman standing before a congregation and redicule Jesus as a bad person. She said he is not what the scripture says He is, and that was because of the tribe He came from. That was and is so far from the truth.

But this is clearly not God’s plan. His desire is for all fathers to reflect aspects of His character, an earthly mirror of a heavenly reality. Matthew 7:9–11 illustrates this quite clearly. In this passage, Jesus is speaking to a group that must have included many fathers. Note what He says:

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! I can rest here and my message is complete.

From God’s perspective, all fathers — even ones who are not Christians — are created to imitate His goodness. My brothers andsisters of The Mystical Order and our associate churches and especially the fathers on this special day when you are single out, remember where you came from and how God and this Order has molded you to be the servant you are today. Despite how bad youmight have been treated as a child count it today as a foundation for your children. Say like Jesus (“Father forgive them since they didn’t know how they were raising you”).

In fact, if this were not the case, the entire analogy Jesus used loses its meaning. You see, I believe good fathers are an example of common grace, like the life-giving rain which falls on the righteous and the wicked alike (Matthew 5:45).

But there is more. When you contemplate the symbolism in Jesus’ examples in Matthew 7:9–11, a deeper meaning, especially for fathers, is evident. For example, consider the comparison of bread to a stone. Especially to a small child, a piece of bread and a small stone may look the same and feel the same. But they are not the same. Bread was, and remains today, a key source of physical life and sustenance, and it represents spiritual life as Christ’s body, which was broken for the salvation of the world. A stone, especially in the time of Christ, could be a tool of destruction and death. Remember, stones were used to martyr Stephen.

Now consider the symbolism in the comparison of a fish to a serpent. The fish is a key symbol of the Christian faith. Of note, Jesus’ first disciples were fishermen whom He transformed into “fishers of men.” These men fervently shared the good news that salvation is available for all men. In contrast, the serpent is the symbol of the Evil One who seeks to thwart the gospel and lead humankind down a path of destruction and death.

What Jesus is saying in this passage is that fathers should make sure their children have both physical and spiritual life. If you cannot give one make sure they have the other and I will suggest to you that they (your children) are fed the spiritual food at all times. Feed them like how Elijah fed the widow through the obedience of God’s word. You have to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.

Godly fathers are to provide a pathway and a connection to God’s saving grace because when they give their children “good gifts,” it makes it much easier for children to connect with a heavenly Father who gave the best gift of all — His Son, who died on a cross for their sins. So when their children hear, “Dear heavenly Father,” it’s winsome rather than worrisome.

 

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Author: Godfrey Gregg