Grace, Jesus

Happy Father’s Day

© June 17, 2018 | Schulter Etyang 

On Father’s Day, many of us will wake up with a feeling of angst. It is supposed to be a day when we are celebrated but to most of us, it’s a day burdened with regrets because everything will be geared towards reminding us of our failures. 

Worse, the day is on a Sunday. We will feel “obligated” to accompany our spouses and kids to a religious service. At the religious service, the speaker will talk about how true manhood looks like, how our religious founder exhibited those qualities, and that we now have to live up to his standard.

This kind of teaching will amp up the angst we woke up with. We will feel so bad that we might respond to the preacher’s call for repentance, hoping that, that act will save us from ourselves, hoping that our spouses will notice the good act and praise us for it, hoping that our kids will notice the remorse and forgive us.

After the service, we will be “obligated” to take the family out for lunch or we will attend an occasion with our name on it. Then our families will hesitantly say a few words about how good we are, and then quickly eat the food we bought or were meant for our celebration. Most of us will get a necktie as a present.

Now, compare Father’s Day to Mother’s Day.  Mother’s Day is usually full of activities that put the mother at the center. We celebrate the woman. The religious leader at the service will give a talk on the achievements of women. I even wrote a post about how mothers point us to Jesus (read my post here)

On Father’s Day, men are castigated. And rightly so. We fail because we were failed by our fathers, who were failed by their fathers, and who were failed by the original earthly father, Adam. And we live in this perpetual cycle of failure, even when we do our best, our best is never good enough. So, I will tell you Father’s Day is not a very good day for men. Few men can say for sure that they look forward to Father’s Day.

The Heavenly Father

The concept of the father is introduced in the New Testament with Jesus. Jesus called his God, father. It is worth noting that religious Jews never refer to God as father. They cannot even mention his name. His name is spelt YHWH. It is sacred. They know their God as master, creator, judge, defender, protector, etc., but not as the father.

Jesus’ relationship with his father was not based on rules and responsibilities but out of pure love. But the tide turned when he was on the cross. His father turned his face away from him. He lost his father’s love. He was abandoned at his most vulnerable point. Why? His father abandoned him for us. This, I think, is what men should hear countless times and especially on Father’s Day. 

Jesus was abandoned by his father, yet he was perfect. He had no sin. But he bore our sins and failures on the cross and was forsaken by his father so that when you sin and fail (and you will sin and fail), God would never ever forsake you.

Men who are under grace are honoured failures, Tim Keller says. They can fail and still be honourable. For though the righteous man falls seven times, they rise again, Solomon once said.

So my man, dad, brother, uncle, nephew, and big bro, Father’s Day points you to the ultimate father, the Heavenly Father. He became Father to you because he turned his face away from his only son so that he would never ever turn his face away from you, in spite of who you are and your failures. 

Happy Father’s Day to all men. 

That’s what grace looks like

 

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Schulter Etyang leads The Life Place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Schulter is one whom Jesus loves. He loves his wife, Jenny, and enjoys reading, travelling, cooking, running and playing squash. He also enjoys conversations with friends about Jesus and about life.