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My Father My Friend

My Father, My Friend

      The third Sunday in June, in many countries has been designated, or set aside for “Father’s Day”. The day is held on various dates across the world, and different regions maintain their own traditions of honoring fatherhood. I learned that in the U. S., Sonora Smart Dodd, of Spokane, Washington is credited with establishing a national day for fathers.   Sonora held her father in great esteem. While hearing a church sermon about the newly recognized Mother's Day at Central Methodist Episcopal Church, Sonora felt strongly that fatherhood needed recognition as well. She approached the Spokane Ministerial Alliance and suggested her own father's birthday, of June 5, as the day of honor for fathers. The Alliance chose the third Sunday in June instead. (info here and below from Wikipedia)
     Not until 1966, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father's Day was it an official holiday. In 1972, President Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father's Day to be held on the 3rd Sunday of June each year. Unfortunately, Father’s Day, like many holidays have their origins in secular traditions or man-made religions.   For centuries, the Eastern Orthodox Church has appointed the second Sunday before Nativity as the Sunday of the Forefathers to commemorate the ancestors of Christ according to the flesh, starting with Adam and emphasizing the patriarch Abraham, to whom God said: In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Gen. 12:3
    Notice that the focus of “Father’s Day”, from its inception until now is on ‘earthly’ fathers. There is nothing wrong with honoring fathers. Our dads, if they provide and raise their family properly, deserve honor and praise.   This is especially true if they raise the family according to God’s Word. And every father should be the friend of their children, as well as one of their parents. But if our focus is right, we can have a closer friend in a heavenly Father.  
     We perhaps need reminding that we all came from God. Without Him and His creation, we wouldn’t be. This information was part of the discourse of the Spirit (as delivered by the apostle Paul) on Mars Hill in Acts 17:28. They were told: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being;” and some of these folks’ own poets had said of God: “For we are also his offspring.”   This is certainly true, as Luke 3:38 points out that Adam “was the son of God”. It should be clarified that Adam was God’s “created” son.   It stands to reason since Eve was the “mother of all living” per Gen. 3:20, that Adam is the ‘earthly father of all living’.
     Just like the first earthly father, we are all going to die. 1Cor. 15:22 affirms this. The passage also informs that we needn’t die spiritually, for there we are told: For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. When one becomes “in Christ” is when they have a “heavenly Father”. This blessing was made possible by God through Abraham and God’s Grace.   We can read of this in Rom. 4:16.   Interestingly, this was written to the church for which Christ died, that met in Rome. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,. The “us” in this verse, are Christians, those “born into the kingdom. It was meant for them, as they were the ones “in Christ” in Rome.   It applies to all Christians today as well.
     Is Abraham our ‘heavenly father”?   NO! And that is not what the above passage implies.   We can see in Gal. 3:26-29 how Abraham figures into the equation.   If ‘spiritually’, by baptism into Christ, we are Abraham’s seed, we are heirs. We are told in Rom. 8:17 that if we are “children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ”. This means if we are ‘in Christ’ we are the children of God and He is our Heavenly Father. Jesus, the ‘only begotten Son of God’ per Heb. 2:9-11, through His suffering and death was glorified, and therefore is not ashamed to call the spiritual sons of God, brethren.
     There are no less than eleven references in the Bible to “God our Father”, and in every one of these Jesus Christ is named as “Lord”.   Would it surprise you to know that all of these are in the New Testament? Four times in three verses in the Old Testament, we see Jehovah God referenced as the Father of the nation of Israel. These are 1Chron. 29:10; Isa. 63:16; and Isa. 64:8. Unfortunately, among Israel, and among God’s New Testament people, there were and are still some who fail to act as sons, let alone as friends of God.
     We have many Bible examples of those who loved God and showed their love for Him by their obedience.   Of course, these folks sinned at times. We all do, as we are human. Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the honor roll of the faithful, and even there the Spirit had the penman, in Heb 11:32, list the names of some who, while their faithful acts are not enumerated, are still part of this great list.   All of these could be considered “friends of God”. But there is only one who has this “official designation. Abraham, the father of the Jewish Nation has this distinction in Jas. 2:23b. Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 
     The great news is that you can become a son of God and a friend of God. But this is not possible unless you obey His Word and “be born” into His family. Only His obedient children, can truly say “My Father, My Friend”.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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