Hearty Heresy


Being a Loving Father
August 28, 2007, 9:48 am
Filed under: Christianity, Faith, God, Jesus, Religion, Spirituality, Theology

Mrs. Heretic and I have pretty much decided that Hearty, Jr. is going to be an only child, which if fine with us (and I hope with him). There are a lot of factors involved in this decision, but given the settings on our biological clocks (tick tick tick), it’s more or less inevitable. This means that I have the luxury of having to consider only one child when it comes to carrying out my fatherly duties. And when I think of all those fatherly duties (changing diapers, making sure the house is childproofed, getting the tires on the Subaru rotated) one stands out as Job One: giving my son enough love to last a lifetime.

Pretty simple. My primary job as a father is to make sure that my son will always know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I do and always will love him–unconditionally. Of course I’m not sure how this will play out, exactly. There are no guarantees that either Hearty, Jr. or I will be around in twenty years, or ten, or five, or even tomorrow. That’s why I take this job so seriously: I have no idea how much time I have available to me to do this job right. Which means that the here and now is always the best time and place to show that love.

Anyway, this has got me thinking about the part in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says,

If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

I’m thinking that if I, an admittedly imperfect human being, can imagine wanting to be an unconditionally loving father to my son, then it’s not hard to see the God Jesus is talking about in a similar light: a God who has made loving his children his number one priority. (The pronoun “he” is from Jesus, of course. I could just as easily be talking about God as a loving mother or a loving parent.) What’s more, it doesn’t take much to expand this notion of unconditional love beyond a single lifetime, which makes God’s number one priority this: to give each and every one of us enough love to last forever.

And that, I believe, is the heart of what Jesus taught. God is such a loving God that he will never, ever give up on us, no matter what. And it has nothing to do with our nature and everything to do with God’s nature. This, I believe, is how Jesus experienced God (“You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life”). And Jesus knew this, too: it is ultimately impossible to reject or hoard such love. All we can do is accept it–and give it away. Which makes it easy for me to fulfill my fatherly duties. If I ever need a reminder of God’s love, all I have to do is look into my son’s eyes.

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You have certainly done a good job of explaining an important way that I experience God. Thank you!

Comment by pastorofdisaster

Thanks. Just trying to do my part for the Beloved Community!

Comment by heartyheretic




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