“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” —1 John 3:1
Talking about God is confusing because people’s notions of who or what God is greatly differ. When Christians talk about God, we are talking about the Father of Jesus Christ, the Creator of heaven and earth. When one accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, one receives the Holy Spirit and is immediately adopted into the family of God. The Good News is that God is not an absent father, an unstable father, or an authoritative father, but is a loving father.
God Is Not an Absent Father
According to the worldview of atheism, God is an absent father who is uninvolved with our lives. After all, it is thought that He does not exist, so how could He be involved? Under the worldview of agnosticism, God may or may not exist; regardless, He does not care. People can have fathers who are physically there but are emotionally disconnected.
According to Christianity, God exists and is near at hand. He doesn’t want us simply to believe that He exists; He wants to have a relationship with us where we can talk to Him like we do with our earthly parents.
God Is Not an Unstable Father
Many pagan religions view God as an emotional mess. If my crops are growing, God loves me. If they are not growing, God hates me. There is a version of this in our society, where faith is based on my personal feelings rather than the truth. When things are going well, I love God. If things are not going well, God is a jerk.
The love of the heavenly Father is consistent. It is the same yesterday, today and forever. His love is not a wishy-washy love but is anchored in justice and holiness. It is good that God does not change according to our feelings or circumstances. Rather, we have a loving Father who can change us when we approach Him. We have a loving Father who wants to redeem the circumstances we face. We have a loving Father who can give us the peace and joy that only the Holy Spirit can provide. God does not promise His children an easy life, but He does offer a life where we can live with Him. Knowing that God is for us and with us is the best thing in the world.
God Is Not a Tyrannical Father
Most world religions and moral systems view God as an authoritative Father—a tyrant. If I behave, God loves me. If I don’t behave, God doesn’t love me.
The Good News is that God loves you no matter how well you perform. The truth is this, you cannot impress God with your behavior. Just like the Father welcoming the prodigal son, God is quick to forgive, to accept us, and to welcome us back home. We cannot earn God’s love, but we must want it. We receive the Father’s love by accepting what our brother Jesus Christ has done on our behalf. Christ has destroyed the barrier between humanity and God and we now have access to God’s presence, the Holy Spirit. But we must pray to the Father for His presence. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13) God is a loving Father. When we embrace Jesus Christ’s salvation we are adopted into the family of God and can call Jesus’ father our Father.