“What is your relationship like with your father?” Or… “Tell me about your father.” This is a common opening line of question for many psychologists and counselors when meeting with a patient for the first time. Of all the places they could’ve started, why do they start here?
The answer is simple and profound. The way one views their father and how they feel their father views them are crucial elements of both psychological development and emotional well-being.
Most humans deeply desire the love and approval of a father. Ultimately this would include an authentic, reliable relationship that could withstand the challenges of human error and imperfections. In the simplest of terms we want to be fully known and fully loved by our fathers and in return we want to fully know and fully love them back.
I believe the way someone views God is extremely important to his or her spiritual development and well-being. Is God harsh or laid back, conservative or liberal, serious or funny? How you think of God explains a lot about your approach to him or even your lack of approach. I believe the context in which we view God can explain the creation of denominational doctrine, determine the culture within individual churches and even begin to answer why some hold to the indefensible position of atheism. After all, it’s easy to reject someone if we perceive they reject us. It all starts with the way we view God and the way we feel God views us.
Did you know that Jesus…being the express image of God the Father, was able to endure the shame and the pain of the cross simply because he loves us? In fact, while each of us were in the grips of our sins and rebellion against him, he died for us. We could never sin enough to make him love us less or do enough good things to make him love us more. He loves us because that is who he is! He manifested his love for us by exchanging his life for ours on the cross.
A lot of junk in our lives could be wiped away simply by being assured that our dad’s love for us is real, enduring and unconditional. I wish sometimes that each of my four sons could see themselves through my eyes. I think they would find such rest knowing how awesome they are in my eyes and how completely I love them. Love has a way of presenting us blameless and complete in the eyes of the beholder. None of my sons are perfect, but I don’t think I could be more proud of them. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my biggest failure as a father has been in seeing the reflection of my love in the eyes of my sons. It isn’t that they don’t know I love them, just that their eyes are yet to reflect the depth of which I love them. That is how many of us are with God. Our lives are a reflection of our ideas of God and how he loves us. Having God’s love revealed more and more to us is the patient work of the gospel.
As you celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas season may the joy, hope and peace of God’s love rest with each of you.