Fatherhood and Identity
We don’t spend much time thinking about our identity. However, the truth is that the actions of our lives and how we feel about life and others flow from our perceptions of who we are. This, as we shall see, is why the father figure is crucial in our lives.
Let us look at the Temptations of Christ in Matt 4. Jesus had been baptized by John in the Jordan and the Father’s voice had proclaimed: This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17)’. God the Father was affirming the identity of Jesus and it is clear that Jesus was His Son. Immediately, this truth about His identity is put to the test. As in Eden, Satan’s first ploy was to plant doubt in Jesus’ mind: “If you are the Son of God…” So much hangs on that small word “if”. ‘If you’re the Son, then make stones into bread.’ The temptation here is to use our powers in ways to satisfy ourselves rather than checking in first with the Father and seeing what He wants. Jesus, however, as an obedient Son reaffirms His complete reliance on the Father. ‘We live on every word that comes from God.’ The devil tries a second time to assault Jesus’ identity: ‘If you are the Son, jump from the roof of the Temple.’ Again, it would seem that if Jesus didn’t do what Satan wanted, He wouldn’t be the Son. Satan wants Jesus to assert some form of independence from the Father in which He does His own thing. But Jesus avoids the trap by stating, ‘You shall not put God to the test.’ At this point, Satan knows He can’t move Jesus from His identify as the obedient Son of the Father. He changes tact and promises to give all the world to Jesus if He would but worship him. This was an invitation to possess all the world — but without the price of the Cross. Jesus, however, remains firm in His identity as the Son and simply says, ‘Be gone!’. He will serve only the Father. Jesus wins over temptation because He knows his identity; He knows who He truly is- the Son of the Father.
In this fallen world, we are all in desperately in need of fathering. We need that divinely ordained voice in our lives which tells us who we are and confirms us in our identity. This is not an arbitrary voice but the voice of truth and the voice of authority. It gives us our ‘being’. As Jesus heard the voice of His Father in His baptism, so we need to hear this same voice of God tell us that we are His and that we are loved by Him. It is not a love that is won. It is a love that is received because the Father made you. It is in this knowledge that we alone can rest. However, the structures and forces in a fallen world actively seek to destroy this truth and prevent us from ever coming to know it. These fallen forces seek to create fear in our lives and gnaw at the truth. We need to remember that it is above all the father who gives identity to his child, who tells him who he is so that the child can be at peace.
Our society has declared war against fatherhood for the last several decades. Most men are deeply wounded themselves, never having been properly affirmed in their identity and find it difficult to affirm their own children. Let us pray that God would send His grace into our world to heal the wounds of men so they can begin to father aright their families. Let us pray that God will father us in ways both direct and indirect so that, like Jesus, we may know who we truly are and may overcome temptation and the world.